Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO

by | Nov 25, 2022 | Indian Law, Indian Law Weekly Round-Up, NRI Legal Services, OCI, PAN, Power of Attorney

We detail some important aspects of the terms – Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO in this article.

Firstly, what is the size of the Indian diaspora abroad? In relation to the number of Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO worldwide, the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India statistics, state that, the Non Resident Indian amounts to approximately 32 million and growing.

Countries like, USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Australia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Philippines are some of the countries that have the highest Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO citizens as well as other countries.  An example of the MEA official data is presented below;

Source: Ministry of External Affairs Government of India

Subsequently, we look at specific terminology – Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO. below.

NRI – Non Resident Individual
OCI – Overseas Citizen of India
PIO – Person of Indian Origin

Ministry of external affairs india

For the purpose of this article the term “Non Resident Indian” will be used throughout in place of Non Resident Individual (interchangeably).

What does Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO actually mean according to the Government of India?

Beginning with Non Resident Indian.

Non Resident Indian

A Non Resident Indian, also known as a “Non Resident Individual” as well as “NRI” is a person who is not a resident of India. This means that the Individual lives outside of India.  

What is a Non Resident Indian?

In the list of terms, between Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO, the NRI is one of the more commonly used throughout the world. The correct identification of NRI is as follows;

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, F.No.-26011/Misc./47/2019-OCI, defines that; 

“An Indian citizen who is ordinarily residing outside India and holds an Indian passport.” 

Contrary to the Government of India’s definition for NRI, amongst popular know-how, the term NRI is used interchangeably for people of Indian ethnicity that live outside of India in common day to day communication. Yet technically as per the Government of India, popular culture has misinterpreted the term NRI.

Non Resident Indian & Tax in India

In terms of taxes, as per the Government Of India, you would not pay the same taxes as someone that resides in India as their main place of residence. There are some differences and similarities.

Income Tax Act 1961 

In order to determine whether you are an NRI or not for the purpose of any taxes, your residential status has to be determined under u/s 6 of Income Tax Act, 1961. Which states the following;

An individual will be treated as a Resident in India in any previous year if he/she satisfies any of the following conditions;

  1. If he/she is in India for a period of 182 days, or more during the previous year or
  2. If he/she is in India for a period of 60 days or more during the previous year and 365 days or more during 4 years immediately preceding the previous year.

An individual who does not satisfy both conditions as stated above will be treated as a Non -Resident in that previous year.

It is important to note that if you are an NRI and have a source of income in India, the PAN has become a mandatory requirement. If you have financial transactions in India and you visit India frequently you should not delay in applying for NRI PAN.

How much does NRI status cost?

Nil, there is no such thing. If you reside outside of India and within the stated parameters above you are classed as an NRI. You may still however hold an Indian passport.

You are are not automatically exempt from taxation if your income in India falls within the Income Tax departments defined parameters.

Does India allow an individual to hold dual citizenship?

As per the Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreign Division, F.No-26011/Misc./47/2019 – OCI;

The Constitution of India does not allow holding Indian Citizenship and Citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously.

Therefore, no, a person cannot hold dual citizenship. 

Overseas Citizen of Indian – OCI Card

The second part of Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO article. What does an OCI mean?

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, F.No.-26011/Misc./47/2019-OCI, states that; 

 “A person registered as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1995.”

In simpler terms, if you hold an Overseas Citizenship Status (OCI) you obtain a lifelong visa to visit India for any purpose. To clarify further, An OCI status is obtained via application and is not an automatic benefit for any person who resides outside of India. Therefore, if you are an NRI/PIO this does not mean that you are automatically an OCI status. You would apply to obtain OCI. It is beneficial to do so.

“Multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India for any purpose”


Can I vote in India as an OCI?

The Ministry of Home Affairs states the following;

Persons registered as OCI cardholders have not been given any voting rights, election to Lok Sabha,/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly/Council, holding Constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court etc.

Therefore, you cannot vote under OCI status in India.

What are some of the benefits of obtaining OCI Status as an NRI?

  1. Exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.
  2. Parity with Non -Resident Indians (NRI) in respect of facilities available to them in economic, financial, and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
  3. At par with Non Resident Indians in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian Children.
  4. At par with resident Indian nationals in the matter of tariff in air fares in domestic sectors in India.
  5. Parity with Non Resident Indians in respect of;
    1. Pursuing professions in India as per the provisions contained in the relevant Acts, namely, doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects, chartered accountants.

As an OCI status would I need a PAN card in India?

This depends on whether your financial activities in India fall within the Government of India defined parameters. If so, then yes, you would need to hold a PAN card. The PAN is a mandatory requirement and one should not delay in obtaining one. As an Overseas Citizen of India whom has any income in India, Income Tax Department parameters would apply.

How much is the OCI status fee?

It is approximately US $275.00, UK GBP £200.00 when applying directly subject to change.

Person of Indian Origin – (PIO) Card

As defined by Ministry of External Affairs India, “A person of Indian Origin means a foreign citizen (except nationals of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal);

  1. Who at any time held an Indian Passport, OR
  2. Who or either of their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents were born and permanently resided in India as defined in Government of Indian Act, 1935 and other territories that became part of India thereafter provided neither was at any time a citizen of any aforesaid countries (as referred above);
  3. Who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO.

In many respects, the Overseas Citizen of India Status compared to the Person of Indian Origin status has added benefits such as; PIO is valid for 15 years after date of issue whereas OCI is valid lifelong.

However, all future benefits that would be exempted to NRIs would be available to the PIO card holder. The application route between PIO and OCI also is slightly different.

Recent notification to PIO cardholders by High Commission of India

On 23 December 2021, the HCI – London has stated the following;

Conversion of PIO Card into OCI cards last date 31 December 2022

“All PIO card holders with a valid PIO card as on 09.01.2015 are advised to apply for conversion of PIO card to OCI card as per the guidelines issued by MHA from time to time.”

The cost of conversion from PIO to OCI as detailed is currently – £75.00 from the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, as per the Gazette of India (Part-I, Section-I) published on 09.01.2015, all the existing Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card holder registered as such under new PIO Card scheme 2002, shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India Cardholder.

Is a PIO exempt from PAN card in India?

No, a Person of Indian Origin would still need to obtain a PAN card if their financial transactions fell within the parameters detailed by the Income Tax Department Government of India. It is mandatory to do so. 

I am a Non Resident Indian, OCI, PIO and require a Power of Attorney for my property matters in India. Can you assist?

Yes we can assist depending on your requirements for POA, we provide a range of experienced services. You can view select services here;

NRI Indian Property Transfer

(Sources:, MEA,MHA,

Frequently Asked Questions

For Non Resident Indian without OCI, does India still provide E-Visa and can a British passport obtain E-Visa for India?

Yes,. India still issues E-Visa to nationals from countries such as the USA, UAE, Germany, Tanzania, Australia as well as others. The full list can be obtained on Government of India’s official site for Visa. As of December 2022, India has reinstated obtaining an E-Visa from UK to India online. To apply you will do so online and follow process.

What is the last date of Conversion of PIO cards into OCI cards by MHA India for Foreign Citizens?

The High Commission of India London, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) states the last date as 31/12/2022 subject to changes.

Does the status of OCI confer the holder with political rights in India?

No it does not.

What is a lifelong visa for India for Foreign Citizens who are of Indian ethnicity?

The OCI card or OCI status, Overseas Citizen of India is a lifelong visa issued by the Government of India on application.

I am an NRI OCI, can I sell my property in India and do I need a PAN Card?

Yes you can and yes you would require a PAN for financial transactions related to the sale.

Related Links 

We can also assist with the following NRI Services in London:

  • Illegal occupation of property in India
  • Family Settlements and partition of NRI Indian property
  • Ancestral real estate and inheritance advisory under Indian law
  • NRI Property Transfer
  • Possession of NRI Property
  • Recovery of NRI money under Indian Law
  • NRI Succession Certificate in India
  • Injunction against alienation of NRI property in India
  • Developer Claims under the Consumer Protection Act in India
  • NRI property disputes
  • Visas to India
  • Indian Power of Attorney
  • NRI PAN  Card
  • Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
  • Inter-Country Adoption
  • Divorce proceedings under Indian Law for parties settled abroad

What Our Clients Say

Request a FREE assessment from our experts

Receive your assessment via:

Privacy Policy