There is lot of confusion around PIO cards(Person of Indian Origin Cards) lately after Indian govt announced that PIO cards would be gone and OCI cards would take their place. Unfortunately they haven’t spelled out clearly (at least not enough) how it would be done. This opened up scope for interpreting many ways with some saying those who have PIO can continue using it and with others saying you have to get new OCI immediately.
Even consulates seems to be not fully clear, they are giving out not-so-clear information based on what we hear from some people.
Spent some time digging into it and following is the conclusion we got:
If you have a PIO card already then you can continue using it. When you enter India with a PIO, the immigration officials would stamp it that makes it valid for life. Consulates no longer issues or accepts applications for new PIO cards and you would have to apply for OCI instead. Govt is merging PIO and OCI. You also have option to apply for a new OCI card to replace your PIO.
Some quotes from consulate sites:
The existing PIO cardholders can travel to India using the PIO card with valid passport. However, the PIO cardholders are advised to apply for OCI in lieu of PIO as soon as possible at http://passport.gov.in/oci/capchaActionPIO
This Consulate has been informed by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India on 16 January, 2015 that the Central Government has vide Gazette Notification No.26011/01/2014IC.I dated 09.01.2015. Exercising powers conferred by subsection (2) of section 7A of the Citizenship Act 1955 (57 of 1955) specified that with effect from 9th January, 2015 all existing Persons of Indian Origin card holders registered as such shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India card holders.
Some other links:
- San Francisco consulate on this topic
- The Wall street journal blog
- Link from company that processes immigration/visas for India.
- From an immigration information site.
Obviously, we cannot guarantee accuracy of this so find out about it yourself and draw your own conclusion. If you have any conclusive and verified information, please share.