Immigration laws and policies in India

Last Updated at: Mar 06, 2020
Latest Update


On March, 2020

In an attempt to contain the spread of Corona Virus cases in India, the Indian Govt has canceled all visa/e-Visa granted before March 3 to the nationals from Japan, South Korea, Iran & Italy.

Immigration laws & policies in India


News update: On February, 2020

Of late, the Indian Government has started to grant special electronic visa for foreigners from over 160 countries. They can apply for a business eVisa, tourist eVisa or medical eVisa by paying a fee online. They will receive their eVisas before the start of their trip.


Things that every Indian immigrant needs to keep in check:

As globalization took place, people started migrating in large numbers for better economic, political and social stability. India is a country of mixed races and culture, offers a variety of attractions for immigrants from other countries. Immigration basically refers to the movement of people from one country to another for the purpose of long-term settlement. The main challenge for immigrants, however, is to acquire citizenship of the host country and avail the fundamental rights to the country they have migrated to. These issues are usually addressed by specifically formulated laws and policies for immigrants that lay out the process and restrictions for getting the citizenship. But as far as the Indian subcontinent is concerned, the immigration laws are governed by the provisions of the Constitution of India.

Articles 5 to 11 in Part-II of the Constitution deals with citizenship and it defines a citizen as a person of Indian domicile or someone with an Indian lineage in the family. Article 10 deals with the continuance of foreigners as Indian citizens, subject to any laws enacted thereafter by the legislature. The Indian constitution only recognizes single citizenship throughout the country and does not support dual citizenship. It also declares that a foreign citizen can acquire Indian citizenship through the process of Naturalization (ordinarily residing in India for 14 years) and registration of foreigners with the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Officer) or FRO (Foreigners Registration Officer). The Indian law follows jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) as opposed to jus soli (citizenship by birth).

Rules and regulations for immigrants

There are certain acts that have been passed to regularize the process of availing citizenship by foreigners, such as:

    1. The Passport (Entry in India) Act, 1920 – Under this act, the foreigners entering India are required to get visa from India Missions. The act also prescribes specific documents  for submission during their valid travel for allowing into the country.
    2. The Foreigners Act, 1946 – This act regulates the entry and the residence of the foreigners within the Indian borders until their departure from the country.
    3. The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and The Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992 – It mandates that certain foreigners who stay past their specified visa period must register with the Registration Officer.

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Indian Visa

All foreign visitors require a visa for their legal entry into the Indian borders. This is however not applicable to citizens of Nepal and Bhutan. The visas provide specific period of stay not exceeding 180 days (6 months) within the country. However, if a visa for an extended period (more than 180 days) of stay is required, the applicant must register themselves with the FRRO or FRO.

The Indian government provides various types of visas such as Business visas, Employment visas, Intern visas, Transit visas, Student visas, Film visas, etc., all of which can be applied as a traditional visa or an E-visa. Besides, there are restricted areas within India which require a special entry permit apart from the above-mentioned valid visas known as Protected Area Permit (PAP), that grants visitors the permit to enter the restricted zones. This permit must be applied as an addition to the standard mandatory visa.

Foreigners registration in India:

1. Foreigners (except from Pakistan and Afghanistan) visiting for a long term (more than 180 days) on student visa, employment visa, research visa and medical visa are required to get themselves registered with the Indian Missions/FRRO/FRO within 14 days of arrival. This process has its restrictions laid for certain types of nationals.

2. Foreigners entering India on any visa other than the above-mentioned types, do not have to register themselves unless they intend on staying in India for more than 180 days. In such cases, the registration must be done well before the expiry of the 6 months period.

3. Foreigners above the age of 16 are required to report in person or through an authorized representative to the appropriate Registration Officer for registration. Minors below 16 years of age are not required to register.

4.  Foreigners visiting on Entry(X) visa; i.e. dependent visa and Business visas, who intend to stay over a period of 180 days are required to register themselves as well.

5. Visitors on journalist visas and other visas without any specified endorsements are required to register themselves with the FRROS/FRO. All Indian Missions will stamp the visas applied for registration.

Recent amendments

The government of India has come up with many significant changes to the Indian Immigration Law such as:

  1.  Any visitor on an employment visa has the liberty to change his/her employer once they have arrived in India by applying to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2.  A dependent visa or a (X) visa can be converted into an employment visa considering the eligibility of the X visa holder and employment status of the spouse.
  3.  The PIO (People of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards are merged as of the ordinance passed on January 9th, 2015.