Who are NRIs, PIOs and OCIs?

Individuals living overseas can be classified into three major categories — Non-Resident Indians (NRI), Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs):

In common parlance, any Indian living overseas is known as an NRI. This is more of a tax classification rather than a Visa status. The term NRI is not defined under the Income Tax Act 1961, but Section 6 of the Act contains detailed criteria of who can be deemed as a Resident of India, and states that anyone who does not match the criteria is a Non-Resident.


If an individual has been in India for minimum 182 days in the previous financial year or has resided in India for 60 days in a particular year and has lived in India for a minimum of 365 days in the last four years is deemed to be a Resident of India. Anyone who does not meet at least two of the conditions will be considered as an NRI for the previous financial year.


In simple terms, an Indian citizen residing outside India for a combined total of at least 183 days in a financial year is considered to be an NRI.


NRIs are eligible to vote, and most importantly, only the income that they have earned in India is taxable in India. Therefore, any income earned outside India is not taxable in India, provided it is properly taxed in the nation where the NRI resides.


Persons of Indian Origin (PIO):

An individual who is an Indian by birth or by descent, who lives outside India, is a PIO. PIOs who held a passport of a country other than Bangladesh, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were previously issued an identification card. However, January 15, 2015, the Government of India withdrew the PIO card scheme and it was merged with the OCI card scheme.

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI):

Due to increasing demand for dual citizenship, the Indian Government introduced an OCI card that authorised a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India for an indefinite period. This includes a person who was previously an Indian citizen or whose parent, grandparent, or great grandparent is/ was an Indian citizen or one who is married to an Indian citizen or an existing OCI for at least two continuous years. Anybody who has ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or who has worked in foreign military cannot be considered as an OCI. The OCI card gives one permission to visit India multiple times for a lifelong period. OCIs enjoy similar economic, financial and education benefits as NRIs. OCIs holding a card for more than five years and those who have been living in India for at least one year are eligible for Indian citizenship.

Content Source – India Law Offices

Checkout various Know the process to open NRE and NRI accounts

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