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Parliament Passes Bill to Amend Citizenship Act
Mar 10, 2015

Parliament passed a bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to remove disparity between Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.

Key Points

  • It was necessary to merge the two, as under PIO, citizenship was extended up to great-grandchildren, but in OCI it was only till grandchildren. Now it has been extended to great grandchildren.

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 which regulates the acquisition and determination of citizenship and details registration of overseas citizens of India and their rights. 

  • The government may shift a PIO card-holder, who enjoys fewer benefits, to be an OCI card-holder from a specified date.

  • Now the benefits under the PIO scheme would be extended to OCI cardholders with recognition granted to their great grandchildren which was earlier limited to grandchildren.

  • People who apply for Indian citizenship would now be allowed a 30-day break if they have to leave India for some time and their absence from the country would not affect their application for citizenship.

  • The amendment bill does not deal with the issue of refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh and a task force set up in September last year is looking into the issue.

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2015 was one of the six bills on which ordinances had been promulgated by the government.

Difference between PIO & OIC

A PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card allows for visa-free travel to and from India. However, a PIO card is only valid for 15 years. Also, if stay in India is going to exceed 180 days on any single visit one has the need to register within 30 days of the expiry of 180 days with the concerned Foreigners Regional Registration Officer/Foreigners Registration Officer or local Police Authorities.  Whereas, an OCI card has lifelong visa-free travel and does not require the holder to register with any office regardless of the length of their stay. 

The PIO scheme is broad-based and includes up to four generations and also the foreign spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO/OCI card holder. OCI states that the spouse of the eligible person can apply for OCI only if they are eligible in their own capacity. Foreign Nationals, who are not eligible for an OCI, but married to someone who is eligible for an OCI, still cannot be granted an OCI.

 


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