Indian Embassy clarifies on OCI cards

MUSCAT, Dec 27 – The holders of Indian passport can’t apply either for the People of Indian Origin (PIO) card or the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, the Indian Embassy has clarified.
“The PIO and OCI cards are meant for those who are of Indian origin, but no longer hold an Indian passport but that of another country,” Indra Mani Pandey, Indian Ambassador to Oman, told the Observer.
The clarification comes in the wake of rumours pertaining to the deadline for converting PIO cards into OCI cards.
“The government has discontinued the PIO cards and allowed their free conversion into OCI cards,” he said. The deadline for converting the cards expires on December 31.
After that, a fee of $27 will be charged. As per the International Civil Aviation Organization rules/guidelines, passengers can travel only with machine-readable travel documents.
Therefore, the PIO cards, most of which are hand-written, are being converted into OCI cards. While the OCI cards have a lifetime validity, the PIO cards were valid only for 15 years. OCI card-holders can buy residential/ commercial property in India, except farm land.
They can also travel to India without restrictions.
“The requirement of registration at Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) if their stay is for more than six months has been done away with,” he said.

KABEER YOUSUF