Good news! The deadline for foreign citizens of Indian origin to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards has again been extended. Earlier, the government of India had set December 31, 2023 as the deadline. 31 December 2024 is the new deadline for the Person of Indian Origin cardholders to acquire the Overseas Citizen of India card, according to the latest press release by Indian Missions worldwide. Precisely, all PIO cards including the handwritten ones will remain valid travel documents for one more year.
All PIO cards including the handwritten ones will be accepted by the Indian immigration authorities at all airports until December 31, 2024, in compliance with the extended deadline for PIO card to OCI card conversion. All PIO cards will continue to be a valid travel document for entry into and exit from India. But, Indian Immigration Check Posts will not accept any PIO card, machine readable or handwritten, without a valid foreign passport.
The latest extension of the PIO to OCI card conversion deadline is subject to a condition for the handwritten PIO cardholders. If the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) issues a new deadline any time before December 2024, the validity of handwritten PIO cards will expire, thereby making it compulsory for them to get converted into machine-readable cards. Or else, the handwritten PIO cardholders will have to get an appropriate visa from Indian Missions.
To be precise, the deadline extension for conversion of handwritten PIO cards to OCI cards is conditional. All Indian-origin foreign citizens holding PIO cards, machine readable and handwritten, make sure to convert their PIO card to an OCI card in the meantime. Since the process takes 3-4 months, the sooner the better.
Is it mandatory to convert PIO card to OCI card?
Yes, it is. All Person of Indian Origin Cardholders are deemed to be OCI Cardholders in India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill 2015. Hence, you need to convert your PIO card to OCI card before or by December 31, 2024. Until then, your PIO card is valid for travel to and from India.