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By Haruna Kobayashi, for ExpatBriefing.com
14 January, 2015
India has passed an amendment that merges two residency schemes for Indians living abroad and their descendants.
A new Citizenship Ordinance, signed by the President, Pranab Mukherjee, confirms that the Government may specify a day from which Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders will be deemed part of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) scheme. It also extends the OCI scheme to the descendants of former Indian nationals and opens the scheme to minors.
Further, the mandatory continuous residency period required prior to taking citizenship will be allowed to include breaks "in special circumstances."
Plans for the merger were first announced in 2012. Changes were made to the PIO Card rules in September 2014 to bring them more into line with the OIC scheme. In particular, PIOs were made valid for life, rather than just 15 years, and holders no longer have to register with the police if they stay in India for more than 180 days.
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, drew attention to the changes in a speech on January 9 to mark Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, or Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Day. Modi said that he had fulfilled all his promises to Non-Resident Indians.
Modi called on NRIs to use their knowledge, expertise, or skills to contribute to India's success, stating: "Today, opportunities beckon you in India."
January 9 commemorates the date of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa in 1915.
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