Pro-Link GLOBAL has been advised of continuing instances where Indian consular posts are endorsing business visitor (“B”) visas with a requirement that the visa holder register with Foreigner’s Registration Office (FRO)/Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in the host city of stay.  While this is not common practice, business travelers are reminded to closely review their visas to determine if this endorsement is included and to undergo FRO/FRRO registration.

The FRO/FRRO Registration Requirement

This rule is generally in effect for foreign nationals whose stay in India exceeds 180 consecutive days in a single entry.   For these visa holders, their visas will be endorsed at bottom with the phrase “Registration is required within 14 days upon arrival in India.”

What’s the Issue for Visitors?

Certain Indian consular posts may inconsistently apply this rule and enforcing this on short-term business travelers not intending to remain in India for more than 180 consecutive days.   These business visas are being endorsed at bottom with “Registration required within 14 days of arrival in India for visas valid for more than 180 days “.

At this time, it is believed to be a random occurrence that consular posts are issuing this registration requirement.  Overall, we have not seen any consistent reason for being issued this special requirement and it is not included on most “B” visas.

What the consulates should enforce is FRO/FRRO registration for stays exceeding 180 days, not for visas valid for over 180 days.  Presently, there seems to be no compromise, as consular staff refuse to amend these endorsements.

If an employee’s visa is endorsed with a registration requirement, he or she must register with the FRO/FRRO within 14 days of arrival with the office in their host city of stay. The India Bureau of Immigration’s website (http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in/index.htm) provides the FRO/FRRO office addresses.

Most FRO/FRRO’s will require that the traveler must provide a registration form which is obtained from and must be signed in the presence of the registration officer.

The traveler must also submit:

•             Four recent passport size photographs;

•             Photocopy of information page of passport;

•             Photocopy of valid Indian Visa;

•             Proof of residential address in India (i.e. – hotel registration or bill);

•             Copy of Letter of Invitation from the Indian host company submitted with the “B” visa application.

Of course, it is always best to prepare employees to check with the a particular FRO/FRRO on specific requirements prior to appearing for registration.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Business visitors must review their visas prior to entry to India to ensure they comply with this registration requirement.

Companies are advised that failure by an employee to register may result in the employee being denied boarding clearance when trying to depart India. If denied the ability to depart, employees will be required to leave the airport, attend an appearance at the nearest FRO/FRRO facility and then return to the airport to undergo the exit formalities.

At a minimum, having to go through this at the last minute will result in the employee missing his or her intended flight – incurring not only frustration but potentially thousands of dollars in change fees.

Pro-Link GLOBAL is happy to assist in providing further guidance and assistance in these instances in order to avoid costly, last minute surprises for business travelers departing India.

Article written by Billy Dato, Senior Partner of Sierra Passport and Visa Services and Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management of Pro-Link GLOBAL.