Persons of Indian Origin card Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Indian Consulate in Dubai on Tuesday announced that all Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards will be accepted as valid travel document to India till March 31, 2019.

The mission’s statement follows a clarification from the Ministry of Home Affairs, that Indian immigration authorities will accept PIO cards as valid document till March 31 along with valid foreign passport.

On September 27, the government had alerted holders of PIO cards that such cards will not be permitted for travel purpose from October 1 if they are not machine-readable.

The advisory was issued in view of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines that make only machine-readable travel documents acceptable internationally.

On Tuesday, it said all PIO cardholders with valid PIO cards as on 09.01.2015 are deemed to be Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders.

“Hence the PIO card, which is a deemed OCI card continues to be legally valid as per law. However, all PIO cardholders with valid PIO cards are advised to apply for conversion of their PIO card to OCI card.”

Those who have not converted their PIO card to OCI card may have to obtain appropriate visa from Indian consulates/embassies if any deadline is notified by the ICAO, thereby making hand-written PIO cards invalid due to ICAO guidelines regarding machine-readable travel documents, the statement said.

“In view of the above, it is confirmed that the Indian immigration check posts will consider all PIO cards valid for exit/entry into India till March 31, 2019. Situation would be reviewed in March 2019 and appropriate instructions will be issued later on,” it added.

The government had earlier fixed the deadline for conversion of PIO cards into OCI cards on December 31, 2017.