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Archive for the ‘India Immigration’ Category

OCI and PIO cards will be Merged

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recently announced that the Indian government has decided to merge the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card and the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards into a single facility in order to encourage active participation of the Indian diaspora in India as well as to sort out the problems that implementation of two different card schemes has given rise to.

Merging the two cards means that PIO card holders will now be entitled to life-long visa for India rather than the visa-free entry being limited to 15 years. This merging also means that PIO cardholders will be exempt from registration with local police in India for a stay exceeding 180 days in India on any single visit and they will also be entitled to the rights of residency just as OCI cardholders have at present. While OCI cardholders get a specific right to become an Indian citizen, the PIO cardholders do not have this option, but now merging the two into a single facility will bring PIO cardholders at par with OCI cardholders.

It should also be noted that at the time of writing this post the Embassy of India in D.C., and the other Consulate Generals of India in the United States are still issuing both PIO and OCI and the process for merging and the length of time it will take is unclear. Although, PIO cardholders can “upgrade” to an OCI card and have been and are allowed to do provided they fulfill the eligibility requirement but such applicants should take into consideration that currently the PIO card is typically cancelled by the Embassy/ Indian Consulate at the time the OCI documents are collected which is before acquisition of OCI.

 

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Written by MithrasLaw

January 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

Travelling to India this Holiday Season – Know the Tourist Visa Rules and Restrictions

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If you are planning a trip to India this holiday season or in the near future, it is important to keep in the mind the recent rules and restrictions imposed by the Indian Government on Indian tourist visa holders.

Indian tourist visas are granted for the purposes of visiting India to sight-see or to meet with relatives and friends and visitors on a tourist visa are not allowed to study, work, or set up a business in India or for that matter, convert the visa into another type of visa.

The recent change in rules has been imposed by the Indian government with a view to curb abuse and misuse of the tourist visa. The recent regulations require foreign nationals, including US passport holders, with multiple entry visas, to leave a gap of at least two months between each visit to India.  If for whatever reason, a visitor needs to visit India again within a period of 2 months from the last departure, a special permission from the Mission or Post is required before entry into India will be allowed.  The gap of two months applies between two visits to all tourist visa holders.

This visa regulation particularly affects foreign nationals when families are traveling to India for holidays and avail the opportunity to visit other neighboring counties for tourism to popular destinations such as Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.  and then they re-enter India within less than 2 months from the last departure.  These foreign nationals, after initial entry into India, may be permitted two or three entries provided they have obtained prior permission by the Indian Mission/Post before departure from their home country. If they are already in India and then make plans to travel outside of India then in some circumstances permission can be sought within India. Moreover, the Indian government has clarified that even if a traveler’s passport is not stamped at port of entry and the traveler tries to re-enter within two months the same restrictions are applicable and the traveler will not be allowed to enter India.

The good news is that this re-entry restriction is not applicable to PIO/OCI card holders or to those foreign nationals holding business, employment and other such categories of visas. For those US passport holders that have been contemplating getting a PIO or OCI card,  it is advisable to get the PIO or an OCI card as it can facilitate travel to India.

As India’s immigration laws are constantly changing and while this information is accurate at that the time of writing, readers are advised to check the most up to date rules and regulations before traveling.

Written by MithrasLaw

December 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

U.S. Ambassador to India Announces more Lenient U.S. Visa Application Policy

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In an effort to make the visa application process more convenient for all Indians, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates General in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad now accept visa applications from across India at all visa facilities, regardless of the applicant’s home address or city of residence. This is part of Mission India’s ongoing effort to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States.

Following the opening of Consulate General Hyderabad in 2008, the U.S. Mission has looked for ways to best capture the dynamism of India’s growth across the nation.  Consular districts are reorganized as follows: Embassy Delhi: Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bhutan;Consulate Mumbai: Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Consulate Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh, Orissa;Consulate Chennai: Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands;Consulate Kolkata: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal.

U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said, “With these changes, we believe our Consulates General and ourEmbassy in New Delhi will be even better positioned to support and serve Indian visa applicants, as well asAmerican citizens and businesses throughout India.”

Written by MithrasLaw

November 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Non-Immigrant Visa Applicants Required to Complete new DS-160 Form

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Non-Immigrant visa applicants (such as H-1B, L-1, B-1, etc) will be required to complete the online Form DS-160 prior to appearing at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy for a visa application by April 30, 2010.
Form DS 160, which is a Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application, can only be used by visa applicants applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate which has converted to the new electronic fully online form and process. You can access the DS-160 from the Consular Electronic Application website or from the  link to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply located on the DS-160 informational page to check for current procedures.
While many consular posts have already been requiring DS-160 completion for some time, increasingly more and more consulates are making the DS-160 mandatory as the April 30 deadline approaches.
It should be noted that when completing the online DS-160, the form times out approximately 20 minutes after the application has been idle so it is best to save the application at regular intervals so that the information entered is not lost. Also, it is advisable to save the application on your computer hard drive or CD before submission of the your application for two reasons. First, if rejected by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for being incomplete, you will be able access your saved application data, correct the non-responsive or incomplete answers and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application. Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa and submit the updated application, in order to save you time.
Also know that when applying for a nonimmigrant visa using the online DS-160, additional forms are not required, with two exceptions. When applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that is using the new DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, you will use only one form. For Embassies and Consulates that have converted to this new process, the DS-160 has replaced all of the following forms: DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary.
The two exceptions are:  (1) Fiancée Visas (K-1/2) which still require use of the forms DS-156 and DS-156K, and (2) the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa application. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee you will need to complete the DS-160 and you or your employer will need to complete the paper DS-156E. (Sometime next year a new form, the DS-161, E Visa Business Information form, will be released. This form will allow you or your employer to complete an online form and submit the form electronically to the State Department but until then the paper Form DS 156E is required.)
In addition, it is important to know that embassies, in particular the U.S. Embassy in London, is turning away applicants if the wong visa category is selected on the DS-160. An applicant who is turned away because of an incorrect form could be formally refused a visa, which in turn can affect an applicant’s eligibility to utilize the Visa Waiver program in the future. So, it is important to complete the form accurately and pick the correct visa categories.
For instance on the DS-160, in the “Travel Information Section,” you are asked “Are you the principal applicant?” On answering that question, a drop down list will appear under “Purpose of Travel to U.S.” It is important that you review the information carefully. If your purpose of travel is not covered in the list, click on “Other.” This will offer you a further drop down list of choices. In addition, If you are planning on working in the United States and you are being sponsored for a visa by a U.S. company or if your employer is transferring you to a subsidiary or parent company in the U.S., you should select the appropriate visa category, which is either “Temporary Employee (H1,H2),” “Trainee (H3),” or “Intra-company Transfer (L).” If you select Business/conference visitor (B1) or Business/Personal Travel (B1, B2) this is incorrect as it does not cover your purpose of travel and you will be turned away and required to complete a new DS-160.

Visiting India as a Foreign National – Know the Registration Requirements:

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Who should register?

All foreigners including foreigners of Indian origin visiting India on long term (more than 180 days) are required to get themselves registered with concerned Registration Officer within 14 days of his/her first arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay.

These categories include:

a. Student visa(S) (including those coming for study of Yoga, Vedic Culture, Indian system of dance and Music),
b. Research Visa(R)
c. Employment Visa(E)
d. Medical(M)
e. Medical Attendant(MX) and
f. Missionary Visa (M)

Foreigners visiting India on other categories of long term visa including business/Entry(X) visa would not require registration with the concerned FRROs/FROs if , repeat 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.

It should be noted that Pakistan Nationals are required to register within 24 hours and Afghanistan Nationals are required to register within 7 days of their arrival in India.

Registration Facilities:

Registration facilities are not provided at the airport and are carried out in the office of FRROs or District Superintendents of Police (FROs).

No registration required for:

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

New modification to long term tourist visas:

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.

Written by MithrasLaw

January 28, 2010 at 10:30 am

India Tightening up its Immigration Laws

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In the backdrop of the David Headley case, security has tightened and  the Indian Union Home Ministry  has now introduced several changes to its immigration and compliance requirements of employing foreign nationals. Most of the measures introduced are protectionist and make it more difficult for Indian employers to hire foreign workers. 

Some of the major changes introduced are visa requirements for foreign nationals, undertakings from employers with respect to foreign nationals hired in the company, including responsibility for the foreign national’s tax liability, an attestation by the employer that the foreign nationals hired will not exceed one percent of the total workforce and with a cap of twenty employees. So a company exceeding the cap could face extra scrutiny and/or delay. Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has questioned the tightening of Indian visa rules asking, “ whether India would allow  terrorists to make it a ‘less welcoming’ destination”.

The effect of the changes are yet to be seen on employers and foreign nationals alike. We will keep our readers posted.

Written by MithrasLaw

January 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

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