India PIO / OCI
All non-Indian nationals visiting the country for any length of time require an Indian visa or work permit. However, for people who can demonstrate their familial ties to India, two permanent immigration services are available. The Persons of Indian Origin Scheme, or PIO as it is commonly known is designed for people who can demonstrate Indian birth or ancestry. The Overseas Citizenship of India Scheme or OCI allows persons of Indian origin living overseas with citizenship of another country to gain many of the rights and privileges afforded to Indian citizens.
To find out whether you qualify and to set your Indian visa or work permit application in motion today, simply visit the online assessment area and complete one of our enquiry forms. One of our Indian immigration experts will be in touch with all the information you need to apply for an Indian visa.
Applying for a PIO Card – The Persons of Indian Origin Scheme
The Persons of Indian Origin Scheme, commonly referred to as a PIO card is designed for those who can demonstrate that they have either Indian birth or that a parent or grandparent was born in India or has at any time held an Indian passport. One of the key benefits of the PIO card is that it applies not only to the main applicant but also to their spouse who will receive the same Indian visa status and benefits. This extension of the PIO to include an applicant’s spouse is not offered under the OCI scheme, and in general, PIO applications are processed more quickly. However, the actual time taken to process a PIO application will vary according to the applicant’s current country of residence. A Global Visas immigration consultant will be able to advise you of the likely processing time for your PIO application.
The PIO card is granted for 15 years, however it effectively amounts to a grant of permanent residency in India. The PIO offers many of the same rights enjoyed by Indian citizens, with the notable exception of the right to vote and after seven years of residing in India a candidate may apply for Indian citizenship. PIO card holders may live and work in India without restriction and do not need to apply for an Indian work permit, nor do they need to apply for any other specialist Indian visas such as a study visa. Finally, unlike short-term Indian immigration services, PIO card holders do not have to register their presence with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer / Foreigners Registration Officer (FRRO/FRO) unless they will be staying for a visit of more than 180 days.
Applying for the OCI Scheme – Overseas Citizenship of India
OCI applies to people of Indian Origin living abroad and offers the opportunity to gain similar rights to those offered under a grant of full Indian citizenship. An OCI application can be submitted by anyone who can prove that they were either born in India, have held Indian citizenship, or were eligible to do so after January 26th 1950. These criteria also apply to a candidate’s ancestry and they may apply based upon one of their parents or grandparents meeting one of these requirements. It should be noted that India does not allow those who are, or have ever been citizens of Bangladesh or Pakistan to apply.
OCI allows applicants to retain their overseas citizenship whilst also securing the right to live and work in India on a long-term to permanent basis. For this reason, Overseas Citizenship of India is often wrongly referred to as dual citizenship. Dual citizenship must be supported by both countries where a candidate intends to become a citizen of one country whilst retaining their citizenship of another. Since India does not support dual citizenship, OCI should not be viewed as such. OCI holders receive many of the same rights as Indian citizens but OCI is not a full grant of citizenship.
Unlike the PIO card, successful OCI applications are granted for life. Overseas Citizenship does not need to be renewed and applicants do not have to register their presence in India regardless of how long they will be staying. However, unlike the PIO card OCI does not extend to the spouse of an applicant. OCI offers the opportunity to apply for full Indian citizenship after five years, however, to do so, a candidate would need to renounce their citizenship of any other country.
You can set your application for a PIO card, or for Overseas Citizenship of India in motion today by completing one of our online assessment forms. Just visit the online assessment area now to get started and a specialist Indian immigration consultant will respond to you. Find out further information on our Work Visa India page.