Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PM Modi fulfils vow: PIO, OCI schemes merged

Days ahead of the Indian diaspora conclave in Gujarat, the Centre Tues-day promulgated an ordinance to merge the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India ) schemes — fulfiling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise during his visit to the United States last year.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on January 8-9, will be addressed by Mr Modi. This move also comes ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India later this month.

President Pranab Mukherjee has signed the Citizenship Ordinance, his press secretary Venu Rajamony said on Tuesday evening.

The ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Citizen-ship Act allowing overseas Indian citizens, including PIOs, some relaxations, including enjoying a lifelong Indian visa. In New York last September, Mr Modi had promised that the two schemes would be merged and also announced a lifetime visa for PIOs.

It will also do away with the clause requiring foreigners who marry Indians to continuously stay in the country for one year before getting Indian citizenship. They will now be able to travel outside the country for up to 30 days in a year.

Several PIOs had complained about having to visit local police stations during visits to India. This provision has been done away with. PIOs were also barred from buying property in India, unlike OCI card holders.

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