Connecticut, US

Mar 07 2019

Reminder for Person of India Card Holders to Obtain Overseas Citizen of India Card by March 31, 2019


The situation

As a reminder, Person of India (PIO) cardholders (machine and non-machine-readable) must obtain an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card by March 31, 2019.


Those who fail to convert their card by March 31, 2019 will be denied entry/exit while traveling to and from India.


  • What is an OCI card? The OCI card and the ‘OCI in lieu of PIO’ card is an identity document for foreign nationals of Indian origin that offers benefits that other countries offer dual citizens, such as entry into India without a visa and exemptions from local registration requirements, among other benefits. After the merger of the PIO and OCI categories, all PIO card holders were advised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Bureau of Immigration to apply for the ‘OCI in lieu of PIO’ card.
  • Machine-readability. While they were issued, PIO cards were made in the form of both machine readable and non-machine-readable cards. This change in policy is intended to align India’s entry/exit rules with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which encourages the use of machine-readable travel documents to prevent fraud and to streamline immigration clearance processes at airports.


Looking ahead

The transition to mandatory use of machine-readable travel documents in India is in line with other efforts by the Indian government to streamline entry and exit in the country. For example, the e-Visa program was recently expanded and relaxed to encourage tourism and business visits to India.

Immigration rules will likely continue to be further relaxed to boost tourism and encourage investment in and travel to India. Fragomen will report on related developments.

Fragomen in India is Fragomen Immigration Services India (Pvt) Ltd., operating exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm in India. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to