By Sanjee R. Weliwitigoda
India’s Bureau of Immigration (BOI) recently announced that foreign nationals are now required to electronically submit certain supporting documents when scheduling appointments online with one of the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) or Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) throughout India. This new requirement significantly impacts certain foreign nationals who are required to register with the FRRO/FRO upon arrival to India.
Previously, any foreign national who was required to register with the FRRO/FRO had to complete an online registration form in order to schedule an appointment to visit the FRRO/FRO and complete the registration process. Now, the foreign national must additionally submit electronic copies of numerous documents, including a digital passport-style photo, a copy of his passport biographic pages, entry visa stamp and documentation of his residence in India (e.g., hotel confirmation or lease agreement). Only after the electronic submission of all of these materials will the foreign national be able to schedule an appointment with the FRRO/FRO to complete his registration.
Who Is Required to Register When Visiting India?
Within 14 days of arrival, foreign nationals visiting India on a long-term (more than 180 days) Student Visa, Medical Visa, Research Visa or Employment Visa must register with the FRRO/FRO with jurisdiction over their place of intended stay in India. This requirement also applies to foreign nationals of Indian origin. Pakistani nationals must register within 24 hours of their arrival.
Although most foreign nationals entering India on a Business Visa are not required to register with the FRRO/FRO due to the fact that they typically do not intend, nor have the permitted ability, to continuously reside in India for more than 180 days on a single visit, Indian Business Visa holders who do have the intent to stay in India for more than 180 days must complete the registration process. Furthermore, any Indian visa holder whose visa bears an endorsement that says “registration required” must complete the registration process even if his stay in India will be less than 180 days.
What Is the Registration Process?
The registration process at the FRRO/FRO can typically be completed on the same day that the foreign national submits his registration application. The process can take longer in certain cases if the concerned FRRO/FRO Officer determines that additional information or documentation is required.
Once the registration has been completed and approved, the officer will issue the foreign national a residence permit. The validity of the permit will be the same as the validity of the foreign national’s visa. Applications to extend residence permits should be submitted to the appropriate FRRO/FRO at least two months prior to expiration.
There is no fee for timely filed registration applications; however, foreign nationals who fail to register within 14 days of their arrival will be charged a late registration fee of 1,395 INR, which is subject to change.
Are There Consequences for Failure to Produce a Registration Certificate?
If ever asked by a registration officer, magistrate or police officer to produce a registration certificate, the foreign national must hand over the document for inspection within 24 hours. If it is determined that the foreign national’s registration certificate does not properly bear a photograph or fingerprint impressions, the inspecting officer may request further proof of identity, such as a passport. If the inspecting officer is of the opinion that the documents produced still do not furnish adequate proof of identity, the foreign national will be asked to submit four photographs and four sets of fingerprint impressions within 24 hours.
What Are Exit Formalities for Registered Foreign Nationals?
Although not a new requirement, it is important to note that, at the time of departure from India, a registered foreign national must surrender his registration certificate to the FRRO/FRO where he is registered or the FRRO/FRO with jurisdiction over the location where he intends to depart from the country. When surrendering the certificate to the FRRO/FRO, the foreign national will be issued a receipt confirming that the permit has been properly surrendered. The foreign national may also surrender the certificate to the immigration officer at the port or check post where he or she is exiting at the time of departure.
Sanjee Weliwitigoda is an associate in Faegre Baker Daniels’ labor and employment group, where he concentrates on global mobility and U.S. immigration matters.
© 2013 Faegre Baker Daniels. All rights reserved. Republished with permission.
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