July 26, 2012

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formally announced a new and comprehensive Mission Mode Project (MMP) called the “Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration & Tracking” (IVFRT). The core objective of this Project is to develop and implement a secure and integrated service delivery framework that facilitates legitimate travelers while strengthening security.

What’s Changed?

Official announcement of the IVFRT was delayed by the MHA until formal instructions were communicated to select Indian consular posts throughout the world.

In early July 2012, Indian news agencies carried the announcement that the agency is “going live” with implementing new technologies for monitoring border control, comprehensive standardization of all immigration forms and visa application requirements in addition to providing a centralized hub for sharing of data through all phases of the visa application and foreign national residence permit registration with a Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO)/Foreigner’s Registration Office (FRO).

Visa Application Update

The MHA envisages that connecting all Indian consular post into a unified system of data sharing and visa application protocol will take at least another year, if not more. In the meantime, supposed implementation of the new visa application system is available in approximately 53 select consular posts worldwide.

According to Travisa, the official visa acceptance facility for all Indian Consulates in the United States, the Indian Consulate in Houston, Texas is the first U.S.-based consular post to issue visa foils absent endorsement of a consular officer’s signature or having a consular affixed to the foil.

Travisa has confirmed that admitting immigration officers at most Indian ports of entry have been apprised of the new visa foil format and should admit foreign travelers according to the conditions of stay included on the visa.

The new visas are issued without signature and seals to reduce visa issuance processing times in addition to eliminating the need for official imprint given that all visa information will ultimately be housed in IVFRT system. Once entered into the IVFRT, each foreign national’s immigration status, record of departure and re-entry and FRO/FRRO registration will be recorded and available to all consular officers, port of entry officers and registration offices.

MMP Implementation by September 2014

Implementation of this MMP – IVFRT has global outreach since the scope of the project includes 169 Missions abroad, 78 ICPs (Immigration Check Posts), 7 FRROs (Foreigners Regional Registration Offices), and FROs (Foreigners Registration Offices) in the State/District Headquarters.

The implementation of this MMP is to be done in phases and the entire project is targeted to be completed by September 2014.

These core services include:

  1. On-line appointments, application status tracking, feedback and grievance redress;
  2. Document verification and authentication services to the Mission, Immigration checks and FRROs/FROs;
  3. Effective facilitation of travelers at Immigration;
  4. Facilitation services to the traveler by providing multi-channel access to relevant information and submission of forms;
  5. Visa Issuance service;
  6. Integrated Database of ‘unique case files’ travelers for effective collection and dissemination of traveler information;
  7. Alert generation and dissemination service;
  8. Effective targeted intervention through an integrated approach to profiling, risk assessment and watch lists;
  9. Inter-agency information and alert sharing services.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

As India’s economy attracts more foreign workers, the MHA is taking concerted steps to control the flow of immigration and ensure that all foreign visitors and workers are entering with the appropriate status and not overstaying in the country illegal status.

Companies and assignees will enjoy a more streamlined visa application system and more uniform expectations when applying for visas or registering with the FRO/FRRO. Given the newness of the IVFRT and issuing visas without official endorsements or seals, it is possible that border officers at certain ports of entry in India may not yet be familiar with the new visas. Travelers should be patient if there is some confusion at time of admission and ensure they are admitted in the appropriate status.

However, foreign visitors should be especially aware that conditions of entry all departures and re-entries will be recorded in a centralized database that will be readily available to border control officers as well as any Indian consular post in the world. Therefore, ensuring that visitors are fully aware of the conditions and allowable duration of their stay will help to avoid uncomfortable questioning or, still worse, refusal of entry or deportation.

In addition, companies are advised that as India moves forward with the MMP, compliance will be more easily monitored and tracked. Indian host companies will be expected to comply with all applicable immigration laws. As the MMP is utilizing such terms as “effective targeted intervention” and “interagency sharing”, it is expected there will be a heightened degree of corporate immigration compliance.

Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management, has written this alert in coordination with our Indian KGNM-Formula One India.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.