Indian External Affairs Minister (MEA) Sushma Swaraj has informed that the Indian government has decided to extend the last date for applying for conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards from June 30 to December 31.
Minister Swaraj said they felt that conversions would not be completed by June 30, so they decided to again extend it to December 31. The government had earlier granted an extension from March 31 to June 30 this year.
"There will be no charge for conversion during this period. So I will suggest those, who are seeking to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards, use this time line. I want this conversion to be completed by December 31," said the minister. The minister also announced that there would be no charge for conversions during the period and suggests those who need to convert their PIO cards, use this time line so conversions are completed by December 13.
The conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards is free-of-charge, now until December 31, 2016. However, the applicant will have to pay service charges for the outsourcing agency, ICWF besides the postal charges.
The Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card was first implemented in 2002 as a benefit to foreign nationals who could establish at least a third generation tie to Indian origin. The PIO card is valid for travel, work, and residence in India for a period of 15 years. The time taken to complete the conversion process generally varies from four weeks to two months, depending upon where the PIO card was issued.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also announced that the PIO and OCI cards will be merged and the Indian Diaspora will be given maximum possible benefits. Importantly, it was noted that simultaneous existence of PIO and OCI cards lead to confusion among People of Indian Origin residing abroad.