Difference Between OCI and PIO

Indian citizens who live in foreign lands have a choice to either apply for an OCI card or a PIO card. OCI refers to Overseas Citizenship of India and PIO refers to Person of Indian Origin.

These cards are issued by Indians who live abroad but still want to stay connected with India. OCI and PIO will further be discussed ahead. 


The main difference between OCI and PIO is that an Indian who stays abroad and has been issued the OCI card has the liability to visit India as often he/she wants and can stay in India for how much ever time he/she wishes to while on the other hand, a PIO card allows the issuer to visit India till only 15 years and doesn’t permit their stay in India for longer than 180 days.

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OCI stands for Overseas Citizenship of India. An OCI card is a card that allows the issuer (who is an Indian, staying abroad) to reside permanently in India without having Indian citizenship.

The issuer doesn’t have the right to vote. No matter for how many years OCI cardholders stay in India, they are exempted from registering with FRRO.

PIO stands for Person of Indian Origin. A PIO card is issued by an Indian who has the citizenship of another country yet wishes to stay connected to India.

The PIO cardholder is eligible to visit India until the next 15 years and stay for approximately 180 days. The issuer has to register with FRRO if they wish to stay in India for longer than 180 days.

Comparison Table Between OCI and PIO

Parameters of ComparisonOCIPOI
Full-FormOCI is an abbreviation of Overseas Citizenship of India. POI is an abbreviation of Person Of Indian Origin. 
EligibilityThe issuer needs to reside in India for continuous six months.The issuer’s parents or grandparents were born in India and permanently resided in India.
SignificanceIt provides permanent residency to citizens to work and live in India indefinitely.It facilitates the participation of Indians staying abroad in the progress of India. 
ValidityThe OCI card is a lifelong visa that is valid throughout.The POI card is valid till 15 years of issuing it.
FRRO RegistrationNo requirement for an FRRO registration.An FRRO registration is required.

What is OCI?

OCI advertises to Overseas Citizenship of India. It provides permanent residency to Indians so that they can live and work in India for as long as they wish to.

It allows abroad-settled Indians to keep a connection with India and also allows them to visit the country as often they want to. 

The OCI card is valid for a long time. The OCI cardholder does not need to register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) if they wish to reside in India for a longer duration (contrary to the case of a POI card issuer)

The cardholder is eligible to issue the OCI card under the following eligibility points:

  • A citizen who belongs to a place that became a part of India after 1947.
  • People who are a citizen of India after 1950.
  • The issuer should reside in India for a continuous period of six months.

There are a few mandatory documents one must carry with themselves to issue an Overseas Citizenship of India card. These documents are, photographs of the issuer, a copy of a foreign passport, copy of Naturalization Certificate, original domicile certificate, birth certificate if born outside India, OCI card of parents or spouse, and many other files.

What is POI?

POI refers to the term Person Of Indian Origin. It refers to people of Indian origin or whose ancestors resided in India. There are around 32 million POIs currently according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Person of Indian Origin card is valid for 5 years. The POI cardholder is allowed to stay in India for a continuous period of 180 days.

If the issuer wishes to stay in India any longer they need to register with the FRRO ( Foreigners Regional Registration Office).  A Person Of Indian Origin card issuer needs to stick to certain eligibility criteria. These criteria are listed below:

  • At some point in time, the issuer must have owned an Indian passport.
  • The issuer or their parents or their grandparents were born and permanently resided in India.
  • The spouse of the issuer should be an Indian citizen.

There are certain documentation works done while issuing a POI card. The documents required to issue a Person Of Indian Origin card are the Indian passport of the issuer or issuer’s related family member, revenue records, domicile certificate, proof of the previous nationality of the issuer or their parent’s or grandparent’s, etc. These are taken into consideration.

Main Differences Between OCI and POI

  1. OCI directs to verseas Citizenship of India while on the other hand POI directs to Person Of Indian Origin.
  2. The OCI card is valid for a lifelong service while on the other hand the POI card is valid for only 15 years
  3. FRRO registration is not required for an OCI card while on other hand an FRRO registration is required to issue a POI card.
  4. OCI was first launched on 15th of September 2002 while on the other hand POI was first launched in 1999. 
  5. There are around 6 million OCI cardholders while on other hand 32 million POI cardholders.


Thegovernment issues two types of cards that allow Indian citizens who are staying abroad to keep in contact with India. These cards are called the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card and the Person Of Indian Origin (POI) card.

An OCI card allows life long visa to travel in and out of India and a POI card is valid for up to 15 years. Both the cards are used to make work easier for abroad settled Indian-origin people.

OCI cardholders have somewhat more privileges as compared to POI cardholders. The former was launched in 2002 and the latter was launched in 1999.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4418077
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016718503000605
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