Centre notifies life-long visa for PIOs
The Union home ministry notified changes to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) scheme late on Tuesday evening to make the PIO cards valid for the duration of the card holder’s lifetime — instead of the existing 15 days.india Updated: Oct 02, 2014 02:24 IST
Well before Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns home, the government has moved, with unusual swiftness, to implement his promise of life-long visas to Indian-Americans.
The Union home ministry notified changes to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) scheme late on Tuesday evening to make the PIO cards valid for the duration of the card holder’s lifetime — instead of the existing 15 days.
The ministry also exempted them from registering with the police if their stay in India exceeds 180 days.
During his US visit Modi had, at Madison Square Garden, promised to ease visa problems for PIO card holders, to merge the PIO and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) scheme and to make it simpler for foreigners who marry Indians to get the PIO/OCI cards.
A home ministry official told HT that the government had begun the process to finalise changes to the Citizenship Act.
The UPA had first announced their intention to amend the citizenship law in 2011 but the initiative lost steam soon after.
The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2013 but lapsed on the expiry of the last Lok Sabha in May.
This time, Modi has set a deadline for the home ministry to get cabinet approval for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill well before the Winter Session of Parliament.
“The PM wants it to be passed in the next session and come into force by the year-end,” the official said.
Sources suggested the promptness with which Tuesday’s notification was issued was targeted at sending a reassuring message to Indians abroad who have been harassed due to a bureaucratic approach to their concerns.