Within hours of an announcement to that effect by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the US at the Madison Square Garden, the Home Ministry has notified new rules on Tuesday stipulating that all NRIs holding Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards will now get lifelong entry to India.
Amending the PIO Card Scheme, 2002 on September 30, the Home Ministry has now notified that PIO Card issued to an applicant shall be valid for his life time from the date of its issue provided that such applicant has a valid passport.
Earlier, foreigners of Indian Origin had PIO cards with only 15 years validity for visa-free entry to India and they had to extend it for 10 years at a time if desired. Now, PIO cards will have life-time validity, as promised by Modi in New York on Monday and the process of extensions has been done away with.
“It is hereby clarified that a PIO Card which has been issued prior to the date of publication of this notification shall be deemed to be valid for life time of its holder subject to the condition that such person has a valid passport,” as per the Scheme for issuance of Person of Indian Origin Card (PIO Card) Amendment Scheme, 2014, which has been notified by the Home Ministry.
The Home Ministry has also changed rules that earlier stipulated that PIO card holders spending more than 180 days in India were required to register themselves with the concerned Foreigners Regional Registration Officer / Foreigners Registration Officer (FRRO/FRO) here. The new rules stipulate that no PIO card holder needs to register with the FRRO irrespective of the duration of his stay in India. Modi had announced the same in New York.
PIO Card Scheme for foreigners of Indian origin having foreign passport was introduced by the Indian Government on March, 30, 1999. A total 52,264 persons, till 2010 have obtained PIO cards.
PIO is granted to foreigners married to Indian citizens, a person whose parents/grandparents/great grandparents are or had been of Indian origin and minors whose parents are Indian citizens or one parent is an Indian citizen and the others is not. PIO card is not allowed to nationals of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and China.