Response to this Question

    The definition of a NRI is significant from the perspective of FEMA, Investment and Taxation in India (See Benefits associated with NRI status). The definition of a NRI under the Income Tax Act is different from that under FEMA.

    Under Section 115C (e) of the Income Tax Act, a NRI is defined as 'An individual being a citizen of India or a person of India origin (PIO) who is not a resident'. A person is deemed to be a PIO if he or either of his parents or any of his grandparents, was born in undivided India.

    The term NRI is defined under FEMA rules and regulations as 'A person resident outside India who is either a citizen of India or is a person of Indian origin (PIO).' However the term PIO is defined differently in different regulations & therefore the term NRI will have different meaning under different regulations i.e. the terms NRI & PIO are contextual. Under the Foreign Exchange Management (Deposit) Regulations, 2000, which deal with banking accounts in India by NRIs, the term PIO is defined as below:

    A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is a citizen of any country other than Bangladesh or Pakistan, if

    he at any time held an Indian passport or
    he or either of his parents or any of his grandparents was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 or
    he is spous of an Indian citizen or a person referred to in 'a' or 'b'.
    This is the most common definition adopted under most regulations. Significantly, Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of immoveable property in India) Regulations, 2000 exclude clause c) above and further restrict clause b) to paternal relationships i.e. father and grandfather only. In Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or issue of security by a person resident in India) Regulations, 2000 that govern investments in companies, stock market and other instruments as also Foreign Exchange Management (Investment in firm or proprietary concern in India) Regulations, 2000 the term excludes a citizen of Sri Lanka.

Date : 9-Nov-2019 

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