What is the Difference Between NRI, PIO and OCI?

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Individuals who are planning to work abroad or who are of Indian origin settled abroad should know their exact status.

Depending on that one can make investment and pay taxes accordingly. Of course travelling freely without a visa would also depend on this status.

What is the Difference Between NRI, PIO and OCI?

Now let us understand the basic difference between NRI, PIO and OCI.

Non Resident Indian (NRI)

A Non Resident Indian (NRI) is a person resident outside India, who is a citizen of India or is a person of Indian origin and holds a Indian Passport. An individual who is temporarily emigrated to another country for six months or more for work, residence or any other purpose.

The definition of NRI is very important for the purpose of paying taxes.

Person of Indian Origin (PIO)

'A Person of Indian Origin' means an individual who at any time, held an Indian Passport or either of whose father or mother or whose grandfather or grandmother was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955).

While citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan are not considered for the purpse of determining whether he is a PIO or not.

PIOs card holders can acquire non-agricultural and plantation property in India and can admit children to educational institutions in India.


Under general category quota for NRIs, one can apply to medical and engineering college, IITs, IIMs etc. 

Under NRI quota and can apply for various housing schemes of LIC, state governments and other government agencies.

Availing Various housing schemes of LIC of India, State Government and Central Government agencies. All future benefits that would be exempted to NRIs would also be available to the PIO card holders.

One can also invest in NRE deposits, whose interest income is free from tax. 

Note: Recently, Government issuing a notification that all Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card-holders are deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card-holders.


PIOs do not enjoy employment rights in Government of India services nor can they hold any constitutional office in the Government of India. They need prior permission for undertaking mountaineering, missionary activities, research work and to visit restricted areas in India.

Overseas Citizens of India

A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950 or was a citizen of India on or at anytime after 26.01.1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947 is eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).

Minor children of such person are also eligible for OCI.

However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, he/she will not be eligible for OCI.


OCIs are entitled to a multipurpose, multiple entry, lifelong visa allowing them to visit India at any time, for any length of time and for any purpose.

They are exempted from police reporting for any length of stay in the country. They have also been granted all rights in the economic, financial and education fields in parity with NRIs except, the right to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.


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