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The dilemmas of a returning NRI
#1
Hauling their overflowing hand luggage, the 250-odd passengers moved to the Immigration Counters. Like everyone else, Jaikishen wished he could get his passport stamped quickly and move on. Long queues quickly formed at the counters for 'Indian Citizens' and 'Foreigners', but hardly a dozen people lined up at the far left counter marked 'Diplomats and PIOs'. He wondered what was 'PIO' and if he could stand in that queue.

PIO stood for 'Person of Indian Origin', he found out. Well, he was also a Person of Indian Origin, despite Westernising his name, but not on his passport. So he lined up at this counter. His turn came soon enough but he was curtly informed that a PIO should have a special PIO Card like a mini-passport before he can be whizzed through this VIP counter. So he was told to please line up at one of the other crowded counters.

Jaikishen got his Green Card and US citizenship long ago. Now he needed a PIO Card to speed his arrival in India as he planned to visit his 'grandmother's land' more often as India was on a roll. How could he get it? Asking another PIO cardholder in the short queue, he was told that an application has to be made at the Indian embassy back home in the US or any other country the applicant Indian lived in.

The PIO Card requirements are few: if you held an Indian passport at any time; or proof that your parents, grandparents or great grandparents were Indians; or if your spouse is Indian or a person of Indian origin. A fee of $250 and the normal documents like photocopies of the current passport with the initial visa page and four passport-sized photographs. Once the Indian mission accepts your application after scrutiny of the documents, it takes about six to eight weeks to process as it is sent to India for approval. In case you apply in India, it is sent to the Indian mission for verification in the country where you stay. Jaikishen could check it out at http://passport.nic.in. The site mentions $1,000 as the fees but it has been reduced.
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#2
Everyone living abroad talks about returning to India, going back to their homeland. They even have a term coined for it: r2i – return-to-India. Sooner or later, every Indian settled overseas considers returning home, or at least thinks about it. Regardless how much you plan and how much you look forward to it, the real life experience always brings its own surprises – the good and the bad ones.
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#3
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