Virginia, US

Nov 30 2018

Significant Processing Delays in Mumbai May Affect International Travel

India

The situation

As projected, due to the most recent expansion of the electronic Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) system in October 2018, foreign nationals have been facing significant processing delays for Residential Permits, Stay Visas (extended Residential Permits) and other Indian permits.

A closer look

  • Mumbai delays. Applicants residing in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (which fall under the Mumbai FRRO jurisdiction) are experiencing three- to five-week delays in permit issuance.
  • Delays in all locations. Applicants are experiencing the following implementation challenges in all jurisdictions since the e-service expansion to all areas of India:
    • Prolonged Residential Permit processing times;
    • Delays in issuance of Residential Permit once approval is granted;
    • Requests for incorrect government fees;
    • Residential Permits issued with errors;
    • Inability to resolve issues without following up with immigration officers, often in person; and
    • Cancellation of applications without appropriate justification/reason.

 

Impact

  • Pending visa applications. Since foreign nationals must remain in India while their immigration application is processed, those with pending immigration applications are advised not to travel internationally until their permit is issued. If they leave India during the approval process, the relevant case processing office may cancel or put the application on hold. The applicant would then need to re-file the application once they return to India, which is time-consuming.
  • Approaching visa expirations. Foreign nationals with approaching visa expirations who depart India during the approval process will not be able to re-enter India under an expired visa/permit and must apply for a new visa prior to re-entry, which would create unnecessary administrative hurdles to re-entry.

 

Background

The expansion of electronic services for filing in-country immigration applications is the first time the Bureau of Immigration has implemented electronic services on such a large scale. The Bureau first implemented electronic services for in-country immigration applications in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, and this system was further expanded in phases. The e-system was most recently expanded across all FRROs and FROs in India.

FRROs are responsible for approving applications filed online with the jurisdictional FROs.

Looking ahead

The delays caused by the current spike in applications processed by FRROs are unlikely to be resolved soon. Employers and applicants should plan for the continuation of prolonged processing times in their travel plans.

Fragomen in India is Fragomen Immigration Services India (Pvt) Ltd., operating exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm in India. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to IndiaQueries_NewPolicy@fragomen.com.