NEW DELHI: On the eve of the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, a three-day meet of the Indian Diaspora starting on Wednesday, the NDA Government promulgated an ordinance that seeks to merge Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) schemes, making the PIOs eligible for life-time Indian visa -- the facility already offered to OCI card holders.
According to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official, President Pranab Mukherjee has signed the Citizenship Ordinance which will now provide benefits like life-long visa and exemption from appearing for the PIOs before the local police station on their every visit to the country.
Till now, a PIO card holder was required to go to the local police station to register after continuous stay over 180 days while OCI card holders were exempted from doing so.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a grand announcement at Madison Square Garden in New York last year, had promised to extend lifelong entry to the NRIs holding PIO card.
Subsequently, the Home Ministry had invited suggestions from the public to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The MHA had stated that PIO and OCI scheme will be merged and the combined scheme will be called as “Indian Overseas Cardholder”.
The ministry had admitted that the OCI scheme is more popular since it provides lifelong visa and the process for obtaining the OCI card is more user-friendly, quick and simple.