NEW YORK: The deadline for the conversion of People of Indian Origin (PIO) card into an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, for US passport holders of Indian-origin, is June 30, 2017, according to the Consulate General of India in New York.
“PIO card holders under the jurisdiction of this Consulate are requested to urgently convert their PIO cards into OCI cards before the expiry of the deadline for the conversion process which is June 30, 2017,” said a press release issued by the Consulate.
Earlier, the Government of India had extended the deadline for the conversion by six months, from December 31, 2016 to June 30, 2017. The request for the OCI cards can be made to CKGS, who handles all passport related matters.
The OCI cards were initiated 12 years ago, in 2005. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after he came to office in 2014, announced that both the PIO and OCI cards would be merged to provide better service to India-born foreign residents.
An OCI card is valid for the lifetime of the card holders, unlike the PIO card, which was initially good for 15 years.
According to the notification on Jan. 9, 2015 by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (@) of Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955), the Central Government hereby specifies that on and from the date of publication of this notification in the Official Gazette, all the existing Persons of Indian Origin [PIO] cardholders registered as such under notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs number 26011/4/98- F. I, dated the 19th August, 2002, shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India [OCI] cardholders.”
Though it’s not mandatory to convert a PIO card to an OCI card, India’s Ministry of External Affairs has advised that for the sake of convenience and to avoid hassles at immigration entry ports, an OCI card would be best for those eligible for it.