The deadline for Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders to apply for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards at Indian Consulates around the world is now December 31, 2021, extending the previous deadline of September 30, 2020. Applications are typically processed within four to five business days. However, PIO cardholders are urged to register for their OCI cards as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Indian government merged its PIO and OCI programs. Although all PIO cardholders are considered OCI cardholders in the eyes of the Indian government, PIO cardholders were advised to apply for machine-readable OCI cards to continue cross-border travel. After the new deadline, PIO cards will be invalid and cardholders who have not applied for their OCI cards may be required to obtain a visa or exit permit to travel across India’s borders.
Additionally, the Bureau of Immigration will now accept as a valid travel document all PIO cards, along with a valid foreign passport, until the new deadline. During the interim, if the International Civil Aviation Organization invalidates handwritten PIO cards, PIO cardholders may be required to obtain an appropriate visa from a relevant Indian Mission or Immigration Check Post in order to travel to India.
Information and guidance on the process of converting PIO cards to OCI cards can be found here.