What is the difference between Non Resident Indian (NRI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO)?

NRI and PIO aka Non Resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin are the tow terms most commonly used interchangeably. However, these two have basic differences in them. Take a look below.
Created On: Jul 5, 2021 17:52 IST
Modified On: Jul 5, 2021 18:03 IST
Difference between NRI and PIO
Difference between NRI and PIO

Who is a NRI?

A non resident Indian is any Indian who is residing outside the country, that is, somewhere in a foreign country. They are Indians by citizenship but are just not located in India. 

NRIs enjoy basic rights in India and are protected by the Indian Government where ever they go. 

What is a Person of Indian Origin (PIO)?

A person of Indian origin is any person from another country (except Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal), who held Indian Passport at any time, or whose parents or grandparents were born in India or who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO. 

The Pio cardholders have many benefits such as they are not required to have a VISA to visit India for a period of 15 years from the date of issue of their PIO card. They are exempted from registration at FRRO or FRO in case their stay does not exceed 180 days in India. They are equivalent to the NRIs in financial, educational benefits like their children can study in Indian colleges under general quotas. 

Difference between NRI and PIO:

The table below clears a lot between the two terms that are so interchangeably used by general population. 


Non Resident Indian (NRI)

Person of Indian Origin (PIO)


Non-Resident Indian (NRI) are the people of Indian Diaspora, of Indian birth or descent who are living outside the Republic of India

The Persons of Indian Origin are also referred to as Overseas Indians.

They need to have an Indian passport or can be children or grandchildren of Indians or can be a spouse of Indian citizen.


They need to be born in India

They do not necessarily require Indian birth but either of the parents can be born in India


For being a resident India, one must spend a minimum of 182 days or more of a financial year in India.

PIO cardholders do not need a VISA if they wish to visit India. This facility is valid for upto 15 years from the issuance of a PIO Card.


NRIs enjoy voting rights in India

PIO Card holders do not have voting rights in India


NRIs are eligible to sit for public offices

PIO card holders are ineligible to hold public office in India


NRIs do not need to seek permission visit restricted places in India

PIO card holders require permission from the Foreigner Regional Registration Office to visit any restricted areas in the country


He/ she may have stayed in India for 60 days or more in the year and for a period of 365 days or more in the 4 years preceding the relevant financial year

They can stay for up to 180 days In India without registration to FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office).

The above differences make the two terms clearer for the aspirants from exam point of view. Click here to read more articles like this. 

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What does PIO mean?

PIO means Person of Indian Origin. It is anyone whose parents or grand parents have been born in India but he/ she was born outside

What does OCI stand for?

OCI means overseas citizen of India. It is life long multi entry visa type of arrangement for people of India

What is the full form of NRI?

NRI stands for Non Resident Indian
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