Updates

India Immigration Policy Alert – Additional clarifications on Merger of PIO & OCI

  1. As per the official notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 9th January, 2015 regarding the Merger of PIO–OCI cards, all the existing Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders shall be deemed to be Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders on and from the date of notification i.e. 9th January, 2015.
  2. However, all persons having valid PIO cards as on 9th January, 2015 are advised to apply for registration as OCI cardholders. This is to avail of the following benefits:
    1. OCI card is a smart card
    2. Possession of an OCI card will facilitate quicker immigration clearance at the Immigration Check Posts
    3. It will help in obtaining various Consular Services from the Indian Missions
    4. For those who are residents in India, it will facilitate in availing various services in India.
  3. Grant of OCI card in lieu of the PIO card is on gratis basis. The applicants will have to bear only the postage charges and service fee wherever applicable.
  4. A separate online application form needs to be filled in to register as an OCI cardholder in lieu of the PIO card. This form is now available in the website https://passport.gov.in/oci/
  5. All persons who have a valid PIO card as on 9th January 2015 and who have not submitted applications for registration as OCI cardholder in lieu of the PIO card are advised to submit the applications online by 30th September,2015.
  6. The applicants may submit the applications for OCI card in lieu of PIO card to the concerned Indian Mission/FRRO within the jurisdiction of his/her place of residence.
  7. In the meantime, all the Immigration Check Posts and the Airlines (through the Civil Aviation/DGCA) are being informed that the erstwhile PIO cardholders are allowed to travel either on the PIO card or on the OCI card and that they should honor both.

Issuance of the Residential Permits to the Japanese nationals bearing an Indian Employment (‘E’ Type) Visa as well as their dependents bearing an Indian Entry (‘X’ Type) visas on co-terminus basis, for a straight full term, in line with the validity of their respective Indian Visas.

As per the Public Update published by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) - Foreigners Division on their website, dated 05 December 2014, the MHA has updated to all concerned that as per their instructions to all the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations, Bureau of Immigration and Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) & Foreigners Registration Officers (FROs), wherein MHA has conveyed the following decisions as changes:

  1. Japanese Nationals with an India Employment Visa (‘E’ Type) Visa and an Indian Entry Visa (‘X’ Type), the Japanese Applicants may now be able to get a Residential Permitson Co-terminus basis, for a straight full term, in line with the validity of their respective Indian Visas.
  2. Earlier: The FRRO/ FRO was issuing a Residential Permit to the Japanese Nationals up to a maximum of 1 year – irrespective of their visas, if issued with a validity of more than 1 year.

    Now: The FRRO/FRO can issue a Residential Permit to all Japanese Nationals up to the Validity of their Visa i.e. upto 2, 3, 4 or 5 years OR in line with their Indian visa validity.

    Caution: The final decision still would depend upon the FRRO/ FRO officer-in charge to consider and grant the Residential Permit validity to the Japanese Nationals bearing the Employment / Entry Visas. Additionally, the implementation and streamlining of the above revised guidelines across all regional FRROs/FROs in India may take some time to complete.

  3. Japanese Nationals (with an Employment - ‘E’ Type Visa and an Entry - ‘X’ Type Visa) need NOT be present in person for visit to the FRRO/FRO and they may send an Authorized Representative, by way of an Authorization Letter, for completing any of their Indian Visa/Immigration Application formalities on their behalf at the concerned FRRO/FRO.
  4. Earlier: It was mandatory for all the Japanese Nationals to appear in person at the FRRO/ FRO offices for any of their Indian Visa/immigration application formalities.

    Now:The Japanese Nationals need NOT appear in person and an Authorized Representative may represent them at the concerned FRRO/FROon their behalf for completing any of their Indian Visa/Immigration Application formalities.

    Caution: The final decision still would depend upon the FRRO/ FRO officer-in charge to grant an exemption of the personal appearance to the Japanese National. Additionally, the implementation and streamlining of the above revised guidelines across all regional FRROs/FROs in India may take some time to complete.

Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) Facility for 43 foreign nationalities arriving through 9 Designated International Airports/Immigration Check points with an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)

Following up on their continuous initiatives, the Govt. of India – Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently made revisions to their existing Tourist Visa On Arrival (TVOA) facility, which has now been extended to 43 Foreign Nationalities arriving through 9 Designated Airports in India (which was earlier applicable only for 11 Foreign Nationalies on a reciprocal basis) with an addition of Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) facility for such TVOAs.

  1. The applicants can now apply and obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online for Tourist Visa On Arrival in their home country through the Govt. of India - TVOA official website.
  2. Applicants can pay the Visa fee Online through the through the Govt. of India - TVOA official website.
  3. Applicants can obtain the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Via Email within 72 hours, post filing the online application.
  4. Applicants can carry a Copy of the ETA and arrive in India through 9 Designated Airports and a Visa will be endorsed on arrival. The Validity of the Visa will be for 30 days from date of arrival in to India.

Important Points to be noted:

  1. During the 30 Days Stay in India using Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA); Tourists can undertake following activities: Sightseeing, Casual visit to friends and relatives, Recreation, Short duration Medical treatment & Casual business visit only.
  2. Passport should have at least 6 months validity.
  3. International Travellers should have return ticket or onward journey ticket, with sufficient money to spend during his/her stay in India.
  4. International Travellers having Pakistani Passport or Pakistani origin may please apply for regular Visa at Indian Mission.
  5. TVOA facility is not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  6. TVOA is allowed for a maximum of two visits in a calendar year.
  7. TVOA once issued on arrival is non-extendable, non-convertible & not valid for visiting Protected/Restricted and Cantonment Areas.

Other General Information and Instructions:

  1. Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) fee is US$ 60 per passenger excluding interchange charge for credit / debit cards. The fee must be paid 4 days before the expected date of travel filled by you otherwise application will not be processed.
  2. TVOA fee once submitted is non refundable.
  3. Applicant should carry a copy of ETA along with him/her at the time of travel.
  4. Biometric details of the applicant will be mandatorily captured at Immigration on arrival in India.

List of 43 Foreign Nationalities which are eligible for TVOA facility:

Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

List of 9 designated Airports in India to be used for arriving with ETA on TVOA facility:

Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai & Trivandrum

POLICY ALERT – PIO (PERSON of INDIAN ORIGIN) CARD

The Government of India – Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revised the PIO Card guidelines by extending the current validity of PIO card from 15 years to lifetime, without any further requirement of registration with local Immigration / Police Authorities in India.

MHA has clarified that all PIO cards, issued prior to Government of India –MHA’s Gazette Notification dated: 30th Sept 2014 shall also be deemed to be valid for lifetime of its holder subject to the condition that such person has a valid passport.

Following are the benefits of PIO card in line to the above revision:

  1. PIO card issued to an applicant shall be valid for his/her lifetime from the date of its issue provided that such applicant has a valid passport.
  2. It is clarified that PIO cards which have been issued prior to Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Gazette Notification dated: 30th Sept 2014 shall also be deemed to be valid for lifetime of its holder subject to the condition that such person has a valid passport.
  3. PIO Card holder will be exempt from the requirement of registration.
  4. The PIO card holder doesn’t require a student VISA for undertaking studies in India and similarly no Employment VISA will be required for taking up employment in India.
  5. The PIO Card holder shall enjoy parity with NRIs in respect of facility available to the latter in the economic, financial and education fields except in matters relating to acquisition of agriculture plantation/properties. However, no parity shall be allowed in the sphere of political rights.

New Guide lines for online upload of documents for all FRRO/FRO applications:

Now as an additional requirement for the FRRO Registration (Residential Permit) application at Regional FRRO/FROs across (where the application process is now completely online) in India, following documents would also need to be uploaded online along with Digital photographs prior to confirming the FRRO appointment/visit for formal application submission:

  1. Passport copy
  2. Visa Copy
  3. Arrival Stamp
  4. FRRO Request / Covering Letter
  5. FRRO Undertaking Letter
  6. Employment Contract and Residence Proof.

Without uploading these documents, the FRRO appointment is not at all possible.

Please note that this is a new mandatory requirement, which has recently been implemented at all FRRO/FRO across India, though the provision was already made on the online system however earlier it was only limited to the online uploading/submission of the Digital photograph.

Also this online documents requirement is also applicable for In-Country Visa extensions in India (E-Visa, wherein in addition to these below listed documents – the Residential Permit & Employee/Assignee’s Income Tax documents would also need to uploaded prior to confirm the FRRO appointment.

In case of Family members’ (X-Visa) Registration – an additional document i.e. A Birth Certificate (for children) and a Marriage Certificate (for spouses) would also be required – along with their respective passport, X-Visa and Arrival stamp copies.

In case of Family members’ (X-Visa) Extensions – an additional document i.e. A Birth Certificate (for children) and a Marriage Certificate (for spouses) would also be required – along with their respective passport, X-Visa and Residential Permit copies.


Discontinuation of filling up of Departure (Embarkation) Card by foreigners and Arrival (Disembarkation) Card by Indians and implementation of new Departure/Arrival cards w.e.f. March 1, 2014:

Discontinuation of filling up of Departure (Embarkation) Card by foreigners and Arrival (Disembarkation) Card by Indians and Implementation of new Departure/Arrival cards w.e.f. March 1, 2014

It has been decided to do away with the filling of Departure (Embarkation) Card by Foreigners and Arrival (Disembarkation) Card by Indians w.e.f. March 1, 2014.

  • Indian nationals are not required to fill in Disembarkation (Arrival) Card w.e.f. March 1, 2014. Foreign nationals (Including PIO/OCI card holders) will continue to fill in the Disembarkation Card at arrival.
  • Foreign nationals (including PIO/OCI card holders) are not required to fill in Embarkation (Departure) Card w.e.f. March 1, 2014.

Form C required for Immigration applications at FRRO Chennai:

Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai India has announced that immigration applications now must be accompanied with a Form C submission.

All hotels, guest houses, Dharmashala, individual houses, universities, hospitals, institute, or other accommodation provider must submit the details of the residing foreigner in Form C to registration authorities within 24 hours of the arrival of the foreigner at their premises.

This is an expanded list: Form C was previously required only if the applicant was residing in temporary accommodations such as guest house or hotel.

Santa Fe reports that the other regions are expected to adopt the requirement in the near future.

This affects all Canadian companies sending employees to Chennai on short term assignments, long term global assignments or permanent international relocations. All Points recommends that companies review any current processes for global assignee(s) arrival in India.

Following is the detailed process steps to apply and obtain the Form C, since this would need to directly be arranged by the Applicant and his sponsoring Indian entity’s HR/Concern:

Process Steps to apply & obtain Form C:

  • Please visit the following weblink: www.immigrationindia.nic.in
  • Drop down the Registration and Visa extension section and select Form C (Second Last option)
  • Click To Register Online Form C - http://indianfrro.gov.in/frro/FormC
  • Click on the Sign Up (Register) option at the bottom of the sign in section – 1. please find attached snapshot Fill the Form C (as per the information required).
  • Kindly click on the link – marked as 2 - As per attached snapshot
  • Post click the PDF Form C and Form S form will generate.
  • This form should be printed and signed and stamped wherever applicable.
  • Post completion of the form C , the applicant would need to send the scan copy of signed and stamped Form C to chiochn@nic.in

Tourist Visa-On-Arrival (TVOA) Facility

Tourist Visa-On-Arrival facility was earlier available at four (04) International airports viz. New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata, to nationals of 11 countries viz. New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Finland, Luxemburg, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar. It has now been decided to extend the facility of Tourist Visa-On-Arrival at four (04) additional airports viz. Trivandrum, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi with effect from 15 Aug 2013. The grant of a Tourist Visa-On-Arrival shall be regulated as per following guidelines and procedures:

Eligibility:

A Tourist Visa-on-Arrival shall be granted to a foreigner who is a national of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia.

  1. Whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives etc and no other purpose/ activity.
  2. Who does not have a residence or occupation in India;.
  3. Who holds a passport with minimum six months validity, and a re-entry permit if that is required under the law of the country of nationality of the applicant.
  4. Who is a person of assured financial standing (the production of a return ticket and availability of sufficient money to spend during his stay in India may be considered sufficient for this purpose).
  5. Who is not a person-non-grata to the Government of India.
  6. Who is not considered an undesirable person and is not the subject of a black list or any warning circular or other restrictive list.

Note:

  1. A citizen from the above-named countries who wants to come to India for a longer duration should be granted a Visa of the appropriate category by the Indian Mission/Post concerned.
  2. This facility shall not be available to the citizens of above-named countries if the person or either of his/ her parents or grandparents (paternal or maternal) was born in, and was permanently resident in Pakistan. Such persons can visit India after obtaining appropriate Visa from the Indian Mission/ Post concerned.
Validity:

A Tourist Visa-on-Arrival will be valid for entry and stay into India within the period of its validity subject to conditions specified. The Immigration officer may grant single entry Tourist Visa-on-Arrival up to 30 days to nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Conditions for Tourist Visa on Arrival

Tourist Visa-on-Arrival shall be non-extendable and non-convertible. At the time of issue of Tourist Visa-on-Arrival, the Immigration officer must make it clear to the foreigner that a Tourist Visa-on-Arrival can neither be extended nor converted to any other kind Visa during his/her stay in India except in the following circumstances and with the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs:

  1. Tourist Visa-on-Arrival may be converted to 'X' (Entry) Visa if a foreigner who has come to India on Tourist Visa-on-Arrival marries an Indian national during the validity of his/her Tourist Visa-on-Arrival. Such conversion would be considered subject to fulfillment of following conditions:
  1. Submission of a copy of a Registered Marriage Certificate, and
  2. Report from the concerned FRO/FRRO about their marital status which will, inter-alia, include his/her antecedents, confirmation about their living together and security clearance.

Tourist Visa-on-Arrival of the foreigners who fall ill after their entry into India rendering them unfit to travel and require specialized medical treatment may be converted to Medical Visa if they are eligible for grant of Medical Visa and medical certificate is obtained from the government / government recognized hospitals. In such a case, Tourist Visa-on-Arrival of the attendant accompanying the foreigner (whose Tourist Visa-on-Arrival is converted to Medical Visa) may also be converted into Medical Attendant [Med-X] Visa co-terminus with the Medical Visa of the Foreigner.

Fee for Tourist Visa on Arrival:

A fee of US $60/- or an equivalent amount in Indian rupees per passenger (including children) will be charged from each foreigner for the grant of Tourist Visa-on-Arrival.

Repeat Visit:

Tourist Visa-on-Arrival shall be allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year to a foreigner with a minimum gap of two months between each visit. The Tourist Visa-on-Arrival facility shall not be applicable to holders of Diplomatic/ Official passports.

Required documents:
  1. Passport with 6 months validity
  2. 2 passport size photographs
  3. Copy of the passport
  4. Hotel Booking confirmation
  5. Return Ticket copy with original for verification

Revised Instructions relating to Tourist Visa for India

The Government of India – Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has eased restrictions on tourist Visas, which had mandated a two-month gap between consecutive visits by foreign nationals.

However, nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and "stateless persons" will continue to come under the 60-day gap rule. The move is likely to breathe fresh life into the tourism industry and comes just ahead of the peak tourist season. India's share of international tourist arrivals in 2011 was a mere 0.64%.

Fall in tourist inflow led to government re-think

The tourist Visa restriction, which was relaxed on Monday, was introduced in November 2009 in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks when it was found that Pakistani-American David Colman Headley had succeeded in breaching security norms to visit India several times over a period of 3-4 years.

A decision to review the Visa restrictions was taken by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in January 2012, after concerns raised by the tourism ministry that the negative perception following the move had affected flow of tourists to India.

The PMO had asked the ministries of home and external affairs to review the restrictions, including the possibility of bringing in more countries under the Visa-on-arrival scheme and improving conditions at major airports.

The order dated November 23 issued by the ministry of home affairs said, "The provision relating to the two-month gap between two visits of a foreign national to India on a tourist Visa has been reviewed by the government. It has now been decided, to lift the restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India.''

Instructions were earlier issued by the Government of India – Ministry of Home Affairs, stipulating that there should be a gap of at least 2 months between two visits to India on a Tourist Visa. This matter has been reviewed by the Government and it has been decided to lift the restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India except in case of nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Maldives, foreigners of Pakistan origin and Stateless persons.