All currently held PIO cards are treated as OCI cards. PIO card holders will get a special stamp in their existing PIO card, saying "lifelong validity" and "registration not required", thus making them equal to existing OCI cards.
A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is a person of Indian origin or ancestry but who is not a citizen of India and is the citizen of another country. A OCI might have been a citizen of India and subsequently taken the citizenship of another country, or have ancestors born in India or other states. Government of India considers anyone of Indian origin up to four generations removed to be a OCI, with the exception of those who were ever nationals of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka. The prohibited list periodically includes China and Iran as well. The government issues a OCI Card to a OCI after verification of his or her origin or ancestry and this card entitles a OCI to enter India without a visa. The spouse of a OCI can also be issued a OCI card though the spouse might not be a OCI. This latter category includes foreign spouses of Indian nationals, regardless of ethnic origin, so long as they were not born in, or ever nationals of, the aforementioned prohibited countries. OCI Cards exempt holders from many restrictions that apply to foreign nationals, such as visa and work permit requirements, along with certain other economic limitations. Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO Card) was a form of identification issued to a Person of Indian Origin who held a passport in a country other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. On 9 January 2015, the Person of Indian Origin card scheme was withdrawn by the Government of India and was merged with the Overseas Citizen of India card scheme. “Person of Indian Origin” means a foreign citizen not being a citizen of Bangladesh, Pakistan or other countries as may be specified by the Central Government from time to time if;
i. He/she at any time held a Indian passport; or
ii. He/she either of his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents was born in and was a permanent resident in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 and
other territories that become part of India thereafter provided neither was at any citizens of any of the aforesaid countries (as referred above) ; or
iii. He/she is a spouse of citizen of India or a person of Indian origin covered under (i) or (ii) above.
Benefits of a OCI card:-
1. No visa required for visiting India.
2. No separate “Student Visa” or “Employment Visa” required for admissions in Colleges/Institutions or for taking up employment respectively.
3. A OCI Card holder will be exempt from the requirement of registration if his stay on any single visit in India does not exceed 180 days.
4. In the event of continuous stay in India of the OCI Card holder exceeding 180 days, he/she shall have to get himself/herself registered within 30 days of the expiry of 180 days with the concerned Foreigners Regional Registration Officer / Foreigners Registration Officer
5. Parity with non-resident Indians in respect of facilities available to the latter in economic, financial and educational field.
6. All OCIs including OCI Card holders shall enjoy parity with NRIs in respect of all facilities in the matter of acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable properties in India except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural/plantation properties. No parity shall be allowed in the sphere of political rights.
7. Facilities available to children of NRIs for getting admission to educational institutions in India including medical colleges, engineering colleges, Institute of Technology, Institute of Management, etc. under the general categories.
8. Facilities available under the various housing scheme of LIC, State Government and other Government Agencies.
9. Special counters at the immigration check posts for speedy clearance.
Every person of Indian origin who is a citizen of another country, NOT being a citizen of any country that may be specified by the Government of India from time to time, will be eligible to apply for OCI Card if:
(i) the person at any time held an Indian passport; or
(ii) the person or either of his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents was born in, and was permanently resident in India, provided further that neither was at any time a citizen of any of the aforesaid excluded countries; or
(iii) the person is the spouse of a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin covered under (i) or (ii) above.
Presently, the specified countries whose nationals are ineligible for grant of OCI Card are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Nepal. Further, if the applicant himself or either of his parents, grandparents or great grandparents held the nationality of these specified countries at any time, he will not be granted OCI Card.
How to apply?
An application for issue/renewal of a OCI Card shall be made in the prescribed form and shall be accompanied by documentary evidence to show that the applicant is a person of Indian origin as defined. Prescribed application from can be obtained from the office of Indian Embassies abroad, Foreign Regional Registration Officer, Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkata/Chennai/ Amritsar and also from the Ministry of Home Affairs, 26 Mansingh Road Jaisalmer House -110011.