The Person of Indian Origin (PIO) are also called as Overseas Indians. They are individuals who are Indians at birth or descent of Indian origin who live outside of the Republic of India.
PIO status is for an individual who is a citizen of another country (except Bangladesh and Pakistan) and their ancestors are from India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955.
In other words, a person of Indian Origin (PIO) is a foreign citizen who:
- Is an Indian by birth;
- held an Indian passport at any time;
- is an Indian by descent; or
- is a spouse of an Indian citizen or PIO.
Investment by PIO in Indian Securities is treated the same as the investment by non-resident Indians (NRIs) and requires the same approvals and enjoys the same exemptions.
WHAT IS A PIO CARD ?
The Persons of Indian Origin Card was a form of an identification card issued to the Person of Indian Origin who held a passport in a country other than Bangladesh, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka & was introduced on September 15, 2002.
A PIO Card shall be valid for a period of 15 years from the date of issuance but is subject to the validity of the passport of the applicant.
ELIGIBILITY FOR PIO CARD
The following persons are eligible to apply for a PIO card –
- Any person who at any time has held an Indian passport.
- He/she or either of his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents were born in and permanently resided in India as defined by the Government of India Act, 1935.
- Any person who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin as mentioned above.
- Persons of Indian origin up to four generations back can apply for the PIO card. The exception applies for citizens of China, Bhutan, Iran, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
BENEFITS OF PIO CARD
The various benefits available to PIO card holders are –
- Visa-free entry into India during the period of validity of PIO Card.
- Exemption from the requirement of registration if there stay in India does not exceed six months. Should the continuous stay exceed six months, then registration is not required even if their visit exceeds 180 days.
- 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.
- Facilities available under the various housing schemes offered by the LIC, State Governments, and other Government agencies.
DRAWBACKS OF PIO CARD
- PIO card holders cannot exert their political rights in India
- PIO card holders will have no voting rights in India.
- PIO card holders cannot buy property in Jammu & Kashmir.
However, it must be noted that On January 15, 2015, PIO Card scheme has been withdrawn and is now merged with OCI Card scheme. Applicants may only apply for an OCI Card.
Currently, all the PIO cards are treated as OCI cards. PIO card holders will get a special stamp on their existing PIO card, stating “lifelong validity” and “registration not required”, thus making them equal to the existing OCI cards.