Immigration Laws in India

August 2, 2019

Immigration Laws in India

Although human migration has existed for hundreds of thousands of years, immigration in the modern sense refers to movement of people from one nation-state to another, where they are not citizens. Immigration implies long-term permanent residence by the immigrants. Tourists and short-term visitors are not considered immigrants. However, seasonal labour migration (typically for periods of less than a year) is often treated as a form of immigration. The global volume of immigration is high in absolute terms, but low in relative terms. The UN estimated 190 million international migrants in 2005, about 3% of global population. The other 97% still live in the state in which they were born, or its successor state.

More often, people migrate due to economic reasons. Sometimes political, religious and personal factors are also responsible. The reasons of attractive incentives for migration are known as Pull factors and the compelling circumstances forcing Migration are known as Push factors which are mainly the reasons for Emigration from the country of origin. The push factors may be war, poverty, natural disasters etc. And pull factors may be political stability, higher incomes, family reasons.

Immigration Law is the law which exclusively governs immigration in a nation. So far as foreign citizens are concerned, Immigration Law is related to Nationality Law of a nation governing the matters of citizenship. International Law regulates Immigration Law concerning the citizens of a country. In this regard the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is relevant. The International Organisation for Migration is the main intergovernmental organisation in the field of Migration. It was initially formed in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration to help the people displaced during the Second World War. This Organisation is committed to the promotion of humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.

The objective of immigration is gaining citizenship or nationality in a different country. In India, the law relating to citizenship or nationality is mainly governed by the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution of India provides for single citizenship for the entire country. The provisions relating to citizenship are contained in Articles 5 to 11 in Part-II of the Constitution of India. Articles 5 to 9 of the Constitution determine the status of persons as Indian citizens at the commencement of the Constitution. Article 10 provides for their continuance as such citizens subject to the provisions of any law that may be enacted by the legislature. Under Article 11, the Constitution expressly saves the power of Parliament “to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship”. Article 5 states that at the commencement of this Constitution, every person belonging to the following categories, who has his domicile in the territory of India, shall be a citizen of India:

1) Who was born in the territory of India; or
2) Either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or
3) Who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement;

Article 6 of the Constitution provides for the rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan. Article 7 of the Constitution has made provisions for citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan and Article 8 of the Constitution provides for the rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India.

The Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 had been enacted to provide for the expulsion of certain immigrants from Assam. The Act has empowered the central government to order expulsion of certain immigrants. If the Central Government is of opinion that any person or class of persons, having been ordinarily resident in any place outside India, has or have, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, come into Assam and that the stay of such person or class of persons in Assam is detrimental to the interests of the general public of India or of any section thereof or of any Schedule Tribe in Assam, the Central Government may by order

a: direct such person or class of persons to remove himself or themselves from India or Assam within such time and by such route as may be specified in the order; b: and give such further directions in regard to his or their removal from India or Assam as it may consider necessary or expedient.

However these provisions of the Act shall not apply to any person who on account of civil disturbances or the fear of such disturbances in any area now forming part of Pakistan has been displaced from or has left his place of residence in such area and who has been subsequently residing in Assam.

The Immigration (Carriers’ liability) Act, 2000 was enacted with the objective of confronting the problem of arrival of large number of passengers without any valid travel documents by the carriers in contravention of the Passport Act, 1920. Where the competent authority is of the opinion that any carrier has brought a person in contravention of the provisions of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and rules made thereunder into India, he may by order impose a penalty of rupees one lakh on such carrier subject to the provision that no order shall be passed without giving the carrier an opportunity of being heard in the matter. The Act has been amended to meet the international obligation of exempting any carrier or class from application of this Act.

The Immigration services at the major International Airports in India and the Foreigners’ registration work in five major cities, are handled by the Bureau of Immigration.

The field officers in charge of immigration and registration activities at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Amritsar are called Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs). Apart from the FRROs who look after the immigration/registration functions in the above mentioned five cities, the concerned Districts Superintendents of Police function as Foreigners Registration Officers (FROs) in all the states in the country.

All foreigners including foreigners of Indian origin visiting India on long term (more than 180 days) Student visa (including those coming for study of Yoga, Vedic Culture, Indian system of dance and Music), Research Visa, Employment Visa, Medical, Medical Attendant and Missionary Visa will be required to get themselves registered with concerned Registration Officer within 14 days of his/her first arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay. Foreigners visiting India on other categories of long term visa including business/Entry visa would not require registration with the concerned FRROs/FROs if duration of his/her stay does not exceed 180 days on a single visit. In case a foreigner intends to stay for more than 180 days on a single visit he should get himself registered well before the expiry of 180 days.

Pakistan Nationals are required to register within 24 hours and Afghanistan Nationals are required to register within 7 days of their arrival in India.

Children below 16 years of age do not require registration, on any type of visa.

Such Foreign nationals, who are already holding long term Tourist Visas for 10/5 years with stay stipulation of 180 days/90 days and with multiple entry facility, there should be gap of at least 2 months between two visits to the country on Tourist Visa. In case of requirement to visit the country within two months, permission should be sought from the Head of Mission concerned indicating the specific reasons for another visit within a short period. In all such cases registration would be required within 14 days of arrival. This includes foreigners holding Tourist Visa who after initial entry into India had gone out of the country largely on account of neighbourhood tourism related travel and are re-entering India within two months before their final exit from India. However, Immigration authorities in all Immigration Check Posts may allow such foreign nationals on Tourist Visa to make two or three entries into the country (need based) subject to production of an itinerary and supporting documentation (Ticket bookings).

Though no fee is required to be paid for registration, yet a penalty in Indian currency equivalent to US$ 30/-(Rs.1395/-) in case of late registration is charged.

Every foreigner at the time of Registration, is required to furnish, such information in registration report, as may be in his possession for the purpose of satisfying the Registration Officer and shall, on being required, sign the registration report in the presence of the said officer and shall thereupon be entitled to receive from the said officer a certificate of registration.

Every foreigner who is about to depart finally from India is required to 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.

Immigration check is conducted for all passengers, Indians or foreigners, both at the time of arrival and departure. The passports are duly stamped at arrival as well as departure.

All passengers, Foreigners as well as Indians, coming to India or departing from India are required to fill-up D (Disembarkation) Card and E (Embarkation) Cards at arrival and departure respectively. The following information is required to be provided by the passengers in these cards: –

1. Name and Sex
2. Date of Birth, Nationality
3. Passport Details viz. Number, Dates of Issue
4. Address in India
5. Occupation
6. Flight Number, Date of Arrival / Date of boarding & port of final destination
7. Countries visited during last six days for arriving Indians
8. Purpose to Visit abroad

Generally specific powers of Visa conversions and extensions to foreigners residing in India, vests with the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi. The change of Visa status from one category to another category is normally not allowed. It can be considered by the Ministry of Home Affairs only in extraordinary circumstances. However, for the convenience of the foreigners, the FRROs/District Superintendents of Police (ex-officio FROs) are empowered to make some conversions/extensions for certain types of Visas without referring the same to the Ministry of Home Affairs.


Fee Structure for Visa Services

Type of Visa US Nationals Other Nationals
Transit Visa (Single/Double Entry) Validity 15 days only $ 30 $ 10
All types of Visa other than transit Visa valid up to 6 months (Multiple Entry) $ 60 $ 40
Student Visa (Valid for over 1 year to 5 years) Multiple Entry $ 95 $75
All type of Visa other than transit Visa valid for over 6 months and up to 1 year (Multiple Entry) $ 85 $ 65
All types of Visa other than transit Visa valid for over 1 year and up to 5 years (Multiple Entry) $ 150 $ 130
Tourist/Business Visa – (for US Nationals only) valid for over 5 years and up to 10 years $ 150 N/A
Transfer of Visa to New Passport $ 25 $ 5
Non-US Nationals, holding US tourist or short term visa should submit an additional $ 20/- for reference to be made with the Indian mission in their country of origin/permanent residence (Processing time: 5 – 7 working days)


Visa fee schedule applicable to Sri Lankan Citizens

Type of Visa Period of Validity No. of Entries Visa fee
Transit Visa 15 days Single/Double $ 3
Business Visa 6 months Single



$ 3

$ 9

$ 75

6 months/1 year
5 years (effective from December 1,2002)
Employment Visa 6 months Single



$ 3

$ 6

$ 9

6 months
1 year
All other Visas including Tourist/Student Visa 6 months Single Entry

Multiple Entry

$ 3

$ 6

6 months/1 year
In addition to above charges, an additional processing fee of US $ 20 is required with each application. Processing time: 10 days


Visa fee schedule for Japanese Nationals

Type of Visa Fee
Transit Visa (Valid for 15 days only) $ 1
All other kinds of visa $ 8


Visa fee for:
a) Pakistani Nationals: $ 2/- (In addition to the above, an additional processing fee of US $ 20/- is required with each application.)
b) Russian Nationals: $ 40
c) Romanian Nationals: $ 6
d) Bangladesh Nationals: Gratis Visa
(However, an additional processing fee of US $ 20/- is required to be submitted with each application)

Nationals of following countries are granted Gratis (Free of charge) Visa:
Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Maldives, North Korea (DPRK), Poland, Slovak Republic, South Africa and Uruguay.

No visa is required for nationals of Nepal & Bhutan.

There are certain health regulations for entering into India. Any person, Foreigner or Indian, (excluding infants below six months) arriving by air or sea without a vaccination certificate of yellow fever will be kept in quarantine isolation for a period up to 6 days if:

1. He arrives in India within 6 days of departure/transit from a yellow fever endemic area.
2. Has come on a ship which has started from or transited at any port in a yellow fever endemic country within 30 days of its arrival in India provided such ship has not been disinfected in accordance with the procedure laid down by WHO.

Certain countries in Africa and South America are regarded as yellow countries.

In 2003, India passed a bill that allows certain persons of Indian origin in sixteen countries (subsequently extended to almost all countries), including the United States, to apply for a form of dual citizenship known as “Overseas Citizenship of India” (OCI). On January 7, 2006, the Government of India issued the first OCI certificate and released the regulations governing applications for OCI status. Persons with OCI status may not vote in Indian elections, hold most government jobs, or purchase certain types of real estate. However, they are free from most visa and registration requirements and receive other rights.

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