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Will : legal declaration of how a person wish his/her possession to be disposed after their death

Return : Profit or loss derived from an investment

Par Value or Face Value is the rate stated by the issuer. This is the value mentioned in the face of the certificate.

It is a set of principles which governs a system or a set of people.

When the first time my friend asked me about NRI, PIO, and OCI, I was blank! I was clueless about what this acronym means; and what is their importance. I had several questions in my mind; the meaning, significance, and difference between these three terms, etc. After some in-depth study and research, I have understood these terms.

From my understanding, the only similarity factor in between these three terms NRI, PIO & OCI is that these are badges given to a person who has or had roots in India but lives overseas. Despite this similarity, there exists a huge difference between an NRI, PIO & OCI across many categories.

I am presenting here, a detailed yet interesting summary of these terms! Take a look below to get clarity on these terms

Table of Contents:

1) NRI, PIO & OCI: What do these means?

Before understanding anything it is vital to know the full form of the acronyms NRI, PIO & OCI stands for:-

NRI is a residential status given to a citizen of India with an Indian Passport who resides in a foreign country for the purpose of work/business, or education.

PIO is an identification status given to whom or whose any of the ancestors was a permanent Indian resident/citizen and who is currently holding valid citizenship and passport of another country.

Returning Nri

[Note: As per the Gazette of India published on 09.01.2015, all existing PIO cards are deemed to be OCI cards.]

OCI is an immigration status given to a foreign citizen of Indian origin as an alternative for dual-citizenship which is not allowed by the Indian Constitution

Definition of the terms PIO and OCI may appear to be slightly similar, but there exists a discreet difference between the two.

You will understand the difference between NRI vs PIO vs OCI when taking a closer look below:

2) NRI – Non-Resident Indian

a) Eligibility for NRI

Eligibity for NRI

The eligibility criteria for NRI status is that the person should be an Indian citizen with a valid Indian Passport and should reside outside of India for at least 183 days or more in a financial year (April 1st – March 31st).

b) Benefits of being an NRI

Being an NRI is only a residential status classified by the Income-Tax of India. If you are an NRI, you can avail the following benefits from India,

    i. Banks offer special overseas accounts like RFC/FCNR/NRE/NRO accounts.
    ii. The education system in India allows special reservation quota for NRIs.
    iii. You can vote for elections but you have to be physically present in the polling booth.
    iv. Your income earned abroad will not be taxed by the Income-Tax Dept of India.

Benefits of Being an NRI

c) Limitations of being an NRI

The limitations of being an NRI are as follows,

    i. You cannot purchase agricultural land.
    ii. You are taxed for the income you earn in India.

3) PIO – Person of Indian Origin

As noted already, the Gazette of India published on 09.01.2015, says that all existing PIO cardholders are deemed to be OCI cardholders. The government of India has stopped issuing the handwritten PIO cards and asked the existing holders of PIO cards to replace them with the new OCI card.

a) Eligibility for PIO card

The eligibility criteria that HAD been set to apply for a PIO card is that you should be,

A person, who or whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents were born in India and were/are citizen or eligible to become citizen of India at any time on or after commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950; or belong to territories that became part of India after 15.08.1947, is eligible for holding a PIO card.

But, you cannot be eligible for something that is no more available. Since the Ministry of Home Affairs has stopped issuing new PIO cards from 2015 you do not have to worry about the eligibility criteria to apply for a PIO card. In that case, you only have to know about the eligibility criteria to apply for an OCI card.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has removed the eligibility criteria for PIO and added the validity/expiry of PIO cards. So, if you already have an old PIO or want a new PIO card then your concerned problem should be the validity of your PIO card.

b) The validity of PIO card

The validity of PIO card

Your PIO card is valid only until 30th September 2019 as an alternate for a visa when provided along with a valid foreign passport. After the deadline of 30.09.2019, handwritten PIO cards will not be accepted as a valid document to travel to India according to the ICAO guidelines.

c) Benefits of being a PIO cardholder

If you already hold PIO card, then you can avail the following benefits,

    i. Your PIO card is an alternate for a visa to travel to and from India. It permits multiple entries for multiple purposes.
    ii. You can work/study in India without any special visa.
    iii. Special counters for fast immigration clearance at all international airports
    iv. 180 days of continuous stay without any registration to FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) local police authorities.
    v. Financial/economic/educational benefits at par with NRIs.

d) Disadvantages of being a PIO cardholder

The limitations of PIO card extends beyond its upcoming expiration.

    i. A PIO card is valid only for 15 years. In case your PIO card expired before 30.09.2015, then you must apply for an OCI card in lieu of PIO card.
    ii. You may not hold a government job. (but can work for a private concern without conditions)
    iii. You cannot vote or hold government jobs.
    iv. If your purpose of the visit is not full filled in 180 days, then you need to register to FRRO or local police authorities within 30 days.
    v. You need special permission to do research work in India from the Indian Mission/FRRO/Post.
    vi. You cannot purchase agricultural land.

4) OCI – Overseas Citizen of India

a) Eligibility for OCI card

A person who is a citizen of India or eligible to become a citizen of India on or after the commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950; or who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947; or who is a child(either minor or major) or grandchild or great-grandchild of such a citizen

A person, who or whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents were born in India and were/are citizen or eligible to become citizen of India at any time on or after commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950; or belong to territories that became part of India after 15.08.1947 is eligible for holding an OCI card.

Spouse of OCI cardholder is eligible to apply for OCI card only after completion of two years of registered and subsisted marriage, provided that the person had not been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such country listed by the Central Government.

However, a person isn’t entitled to apply for any of these cards, if the person or their ancestors at any time was a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and others as specified by the rules laid by the Government of India.

b) Validity & Renewal of OCI card

The OCI card acts as a VISA to enter India for any purpose multiple times with life-long validity when carried along with a valid foreign passport.

Even though the OCI card is said to have lifelong validity, it needs to be renewed after expiry of the foreign passport of the OCI cardholder; and after reaching the age of 20 years of the OCI cardholder; after reaching the age of 50 years of the OCI cardholder.

The processing time for renewal of the OCI card will be around a maximum of 10 to 12 weeks.

c) Benefits of being a OCI cardholder

The benefits of holding an OCI card are as follows,

    i. Multiple entries to visit India for lifelong for multi-purposes.
    ii. You need NOT register with FRRO or local police authorities even after a continuous stay of 180 days.
    iii. You can work/study in India without any special permission just like Indian nationals.
    iv. Special counters for fast immigration clearance at all international airports
    v. Financial/economic/educational benefits are on par with NRIs.
    vi. Parity with Resident Indians in charges for Domestic Airfares/National Parks/Wild Life Sanctuaries/Museums/Historical sites etc.

d) Disadvantages of being a OCI cardholder

The limitations of an OCI cardholder are bare when compared with the facilities offered to an Indian Resident. If you are an OCI cardholder, then your restrictions are,

    i. You cannot purchase agricultural land.
    ii. You may not hold a government job. (but can work for a private concern without conditions)
    iii. You cannot vote or hold government jobs.
    iv. You need special permission to do research work in India from the Indian Mission/FRRO/Post.

e) How to apply for OCI card

How to apply for OCI card

You should fall into two categories when you register for an OCI card – a new OCI registration and conversion of PIO to OCI card.

You can apply for an OCI card (both new & conversion) through online from the official website of Indian Government – https://ociservices.gov.in/

The website contains a brief guide of the application procedure. The documents required to apply for the OCI certificate, OCI application status enquiry, OCI miscellaneous services, and F.A.Qs are also mentioned on the website. After successful online registration, you will be required to produce the original documents that you provided while submitting the online application.

On successful submission of the online application form, you have to visit the Indian Mission/post/office for original document verification if you currently reside in India. You have to visit the Indian embassy in the country where you hold citizenship if your current residence is in the country where you hold citizenship.

5) The key difference between PIO, OCI and NRI

a) PIO vs. OCI

i) When talking about the differences between the two, let’s begin with the privileges. A PIO card allows visa-free travel from and to India to the person holding a valid card. A PIO card is considered valid only if you hold a valid passport. On the contrary, an OCI card allows lifetime visa-free traveling to and from India.

ii. Next important difference between OCI and PIO is the extension of stay. A PIO card allows only 180 days of continuous stay in India, the PIO cardholder has to inform the FRRO or local police if the stay needs to be extended beyond 180 days. An OCI cardholder can stay in India for any length of time without any concern of intimation to the local police or FRRO.

iii. The difference in the eligibility criteria is, the foreign spouse of the card holder is eligible to apply for PIO. However, for OCI card, it mandates the person to be eligible in their own capacity. In simple terms, a foreign national who isn’t eligible to apply for an OCI card, will not get an OCI card even if married to a person who is a holder of the valid OCI card. However, their children are eligible to hold an OCI card.

b) NRI vs. OCI

The key difference between NRI and OCI is that a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a residential status described by the Income Tax Department of India which comes into use only while filing IT returns. An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) is an immigration status or special visa given for foreign nationals of Indian Origin by the Government of India to visit or live in India indefinitely.

c) NRI vs. PIO

The key difference between NRI and PIO is that a Non-Resident India (NRI) is a residential status described by the Income Tax Department of India which comes into use only while filing IT returns. Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card was a form of identification issued to an Indian Origin individual who held a passport in a country other than Pakistan, Bangladesh, and others listed by the Indian Government.

6) Do a PIO, NRI or OCI card holder has to pay taxes in India?

Do a PIO, NRI or OCI card holder has to pay taxes in India

Yes, PIO, OCI, or NRI have to pay tax in India but only for the income earned in India. The PIO/OCI card holder is not liable to pay or declare any tax for the income earned abroad. Only income earned in India is subject to taxes.

Conclusion

If you are looking forward to applying for a PIO or OCI card, enlighten your mind with this information and apply for the card.

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