PIO AND OCI Application Process for NRIs

A PIO (Person of Indian Origin) Card allows visa free travel and gives several benefits to the card holder. The Government of India has a comprehensive Scheme for Persons of Indian Origin – called the “PIO Card Scheme”. Under this scheme, Persons of Indian Origin up to the fourth generation (great grandparents) settled throughout the world, except for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka would be eligible. The PIO Card will be valid only when accompanied with a valid passport.

Despite all the news coverage and excitement over this issue, please understand that the Constitution of India DOES NOT allow dual citizenship, i.e., simultaneously holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country. The Government of India has decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), which most people mistakenly refer to as ‘dual citizenship.’ Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of certain categories who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country, other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to be granted an OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.

Application Process
PIO Card OCI Card
Procedure One step:Completely manual process. You must download forms from http://www.immihelp.com/nri/piocard/pio-card-application-form-washington-dc.pdf and send documents to the applicable embassy/consulate or Indian immigration office.The office will process and send back the PIO card after processing. Submission of original passport of current nationality is not required. Multi step:Apply online for part A at https://passport.gov.in/oci/OnlineOCIRegistrationG.jsp, get a registration number, submit required documents to the applicable embassy/consulate or Indian immigration office.Central processing of applications will occur in New Delhi, India.Ministry sends OCI card to embassy/consulate.Applicant deposit passport to get OCI card stamped in passport.
Processing time About 2 to 4 weeks About 3 to 4 months
Application fees $365 for adult, $185 for child below 18 years of age $275 for US citizens, $295 for non-US citizens for adults. $25 for PIO card holder if US citizen, $45 for non-US citizen PIO card holder.
Refund for Application fees None Refunded after deducting $25 processing fee, if OCI card can’t be issued.
Card at no charge Only to exceptionally eminent person of Indian origin To no one
Photo graph White or light background Light background. No white background
Duplicate card fee $100 $25
alidity 15 years (20 years in some early cases) Lifelong

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