Making Sense of Indian Visas for Spouses of Indians


PIO & OCI Cards

Did you know as a spouse or child of an Indian Citizen you are entitled to apply for a PIO card to visit India? PIO stands for Person of Indian Origin. You might be asking, “Why would I want to apply for such a card?” Well, there are multiple benefits. Firstly, you pay a fee of $365 for adults or $185 for children and you receive a 15-year card. If you are living in India with your spouse, you are able to legally work with a PIO card. Your children are able to study in India without any further student permits – hey medical school must be a lot cheaper in India, right?

If your children have one Indian parent, or if your Indian spouse has recently become a US citizen, they are eligible to apply for an OCI Card. OK, I know the acronyms are getting a little confusing, but OCI stands for Overseas Citizen of India. Basically it’s a step higher than PIO cards, and closer to Dual Citizenship (although India does not currently permit dual citizenship.) The fee is just $275 for US citizens, or $25 if you already are a US citizen PIO Card holder. The main benefit of this card is it’s good for life. You don’t ever need another visa to visit India! As an OCI, you can live, work and study in India, and you never have to register with authorities (as a PIO you have to register for stays longer than 180 days). There are many other benefits and pros and cons for both the PIO and OCI cards.

I plan to apply for the PIO card before our next trip to India (my current visa is still valid for a few more years, but I’d like to go ahead and secure my card). We will definitely apply for the OCI cards for our kids too!

Some good resources for more information:

8 thoughts on “Making Sense of Indian Visas for Spouses of Indians

  1. Gundu White Girl

    I didn`t know it was good for life. We have been debating getting them for the kids and I. We thought it was only good for 15 years. Awesome! We`ll be applying after the baby gets his passport.

  2. Gori Girl

    There’s a tourist visa available for Americans that’s good for 10 years (6 month visits at a time) for only $163. That’s the one I have now, and I think it suits well for most intercultural couples. If we end up moving to India my company will pay for the employment visa anyways.

  3. Heather

    Just an update – I wasn’t sure about whether our daughter would be eligible for the OCI card (because my husband has not yet become a US citizen). So I emailed the consulate. Here is the response I got from them – they were VERY helpful and replied to my email almost immediately!

    “A child is eligible for an OCI only if either of his parents holds a non Indian passport but is of Indian origin.

    Your child is eligible for an OCI card, either when your husband acquires US Nationality or when she turns 18.

    She is currently eligible for a PIO card.”

    Hope that helps!

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