Under Indian law, the legal rights and the restrictions imposed on foreign nationals depend on whether they are categorized as residents or non-residents.
Entry into India generally requires a valid visa granted by an Indian Mission (that is, consulate of the Indian embassy) abroad. Furthermore, foreign nationals who enter India must register themselves with the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival if they intend to reside in India for a consecutive period of more than 180 days.
The entry, stay and exit of foreign nationals into India are primarily governed by the following laws (among others):
What is e-FRRO?
Foreigners’ Registration in India
Foreigners other than those mentioned above will not be required to get themselves registered, even if they have entered India on a long term visa provided their continuous stay in India does not exceed 180 days. If the intention of the foreigner is to stay in India for more than 180 days, he/she should get himself/ herself registered well before the expiry of 180 days from the date of arrival with the FRRO/FRO concerned.
Children below 16 years of age are exempted from Registration if they have entered on PIO card or on any type of Visa and except where specified otherwise. It is mandatory for all foreigners to personally appear at the concerned FRRO office for obtaining any Visa related services.
Requirements for Extension of Visa
Foreigners must submit application for extension of residential permit/ visa at least 60 days before the date of expiry of respective residential permit/visa.
In the event of overstay foreigner is liable for prosecution under Foreigners Act 1946 and imprisonment up to 5 years with fine & expulsion from India.
Late Renewal of Residential Permit
A foreigner who has delayed for renewal of RP, on application, if delay is condoned will be charged a penalty in Indian currency equivalent to US $30/- for late renewal.
Report of absence from Registered Address
If at any time a foreigner proposes to be absent from his / her registered address for a continuous period of eight weeks or more or change his / her registered address, then the foreigner is required to inform in person or through an authorized representative or by registered post to his / her Registration Officer of his / her intention to change his registered address or to leave either temporarily or permanently under the jurisdiction of the Registration Officer. In case of return, the foreigner should inform the Registration Officer of the date of return and in case the foreigner is moving away inform the change of address. Any changes made subsequently should also be intimated to the Registration Officer. Every foreigner, who stays for a period of more than eight weeks at any place in any district other than the district in which his / her registered address is situated, shall inform the Registration Officer of that district of his / her presence. This can be made in writing and the requirements deemed to have been fulfilled if, prior to arrival the foreigner furnishes to the Registration Officer of the said district intimating the dates of his proposed arrival and departure from the district.
Change in Registered address
A foreigner shall be deemed to have changed his registered address, if he changes his residence from one place to another place in India and if having no residence, he leaves his registered address knowing that he is not likely to return within six months of leaving it.
Reports of other changes except address
Every foreigner is required to furnish to the Registration Officer of the district in which his registered address is situated, particulars of any circumstances affecting in any manner the accuracy of the particulars recorded in his certificate of registration within fourteen days after the circumstance has occurred, and generally shall provide to the Registration Officer all information as may be necessary for maintaining the accuracy of the certificate.
Surrender of certificates of registration on departure
Every foreigner who is about to depart finally from India shall surrender his certificate of registration either to the Registration Officer of the place where he is registered or of the place from where he intends to depart or to the Immigration Officer at the Port/Check post of exit at the time of final departure from India. If the certificate is surrendered other than to the Immigration Officer of the port or check post of exit, a receipt indicating such surrender of the document may be obtained and shown to the Immigration Officer at the time of final departure
Duplicate certificate of registration
If any certificate of registration, issued under existing Acts / Rules is lost or destroyed, the foreigner to whom it was issued, shall make or send to the Registration Officer of the district of his registered address a report of circumstances in which it was so lost or destroyed along with an application in writing and a copy of police report in order to issue a duplicate copy of the certificate of registration.
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholder
(a) The following categories of persons (except Pakistan and Bangladesh) are eligible to apply under OCI scheme:
(b) A person, who is minor child of a person mentioned in clause (a); or
(c) A person, who is a minor child, and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India; or
(d) Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder registered under section 7A, Citizenship Act 1955 and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application under this section.
Foreigners Possessing Entry (X) Visa / Journalist (J) Visa
Indians visiting abroad
As per the Emigration Act, 1983, Emigration Check Required (ECR) categories of Indian passport holders, require to obtain “Emigration Clearance” from the office of Protector of Emigrants (POE), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs for going to following 18 countries.
United Arab Emirates (UAE), The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand, Iraq (emigration banned).
However , the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (Emigration Policy Division) have allowed ECR passport holders traveling abroad for purposes others than employment to leave the country on production of valid passport, valid visa and return ticket at the immigration counters at international airports in India w.e.f. 1st October 2007.
If the RPO has issued Indian passport either with endorsement of “Emigration Check Required” or no endorsement of “Emigration Check Required” in the passport, POE clearance is required only when there is “Emigration Check Required” endorsement in the passport.
About the Author
Author is Gloria Jaggi, CEO of PK Chopra and Co., a Chartered Accountancy firm headquartered at New Delhi and branches at Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Lucknow, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Gurgaon. Firm came into existence in year 1963 and specializes in Auditing, Accounting, Taxation and Transaction advisory. Ms. Jaggi Joined PKC in 1995 and has demonstrated history of expertise in the areas of Management Advisory, Statutory Compliances, Internal Control and Compliances Audit for over 25 years. She is focused on helping Foreign Companies in setting up Business in India and complying with various tax laws applicable, Strategy Planning, NGO, NPO and CSR sector.