Addressing 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, 2017 – the largest gathering so far of Indians living abroad – Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged the diaspora community to switch from their PIO cards to OCI cards. Non-Resident Indians (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) are the three major categories in which the people from India go and live abroad can be categorised. While NRIs is essentially a term used for Indians that live in another country, PIOs and OCIs are people who want to stay connected and involved with India more closely. As per the reports by The Indian Express, to serve the same purpose, the government of India issues PIO cards and OCI cards to them according to their needs. Check out what all you need to know about PIO card and OCI card benefits. Though PIO and OCI cards come with different advantages, following facts tell about the benefits for the respective cardholders:
Advantage to a PIO card holder:
1) If a person holds a PIO card, then he/she doesn’t need a visa to visit India. Along with this, he/she is exempted from a student or employment visa to acquire employment or academic opportunities in India.
2) A PIO card holder during the duration of stay in India, is not required to register at the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
3) Not only this, but the holder also enjoys parity with NRIs in concern to economic, financial and educational matters. These may include matters related to property transfer or acquisition, holding, disposal, investment, admission of children in educational institutions under general category quota for NRIs.
4) A separate immigration counters are provided at all International airports in India for PIO card holders.
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On the other hand, the drawbacks for PIO card holder are:
1) The PIO card holders do not have any voting rights.
2) Meanwhile, a prior permission is needed to undertake mountaineering expeditions or any such related research work in protected areas.
PM Modi also promoted the idea of converting their PIO cards with OCI cards. The OCI card has its own several benefits.
1) OCI is essentially a lifetime visa status offered by India to an Indian person who has given up his citizenship.
2) It doesn’t matter how long does the OCI holder stays in the country, he/she is exempted from registering with the FRRO.
3) Another advantage is that if a person remains an OCI for 5 years, he/she can attain Indian citizenship and then live in India for a period of one year including short breaks.
4) Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders.
5) Th card holder can open special bank accounts in India just like NRIs and make investments.
6) OCI holders can also buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and is alos allowed to apply for a driver’s license, PAN card or open a bank account in India.
7) The holder enjoys the same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and he/she can also adopt children.
Restrictions for OCI card holders
1) An OCI card holder cannot vote.
2) He/she cannot hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land.
3) Also, the person without permission cannot run for public office or travel to restricted areas.