The Indian Bureau of Immigration has introduced e-FRRO, an online immigration portal, to bring in more transparency and provide paperless services to foreign nationals.
With the increasing impetus given by the Indian government to the digital way of providing services, the Indian Bureau of Immigration in order to digitize the immigration process has introduced e-FRRO, an online immigration portal.
Foreign nationals visiting India on a long-term basis are required to obtain immigration approvals from the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) for their visit and stay in India. Until now, the process of obtaining such permits, visa and approvals involved filing a paper application and securing an appointment for a personal meeting/ interview with the immigration officials. However, with an objective to bring in more transparency and provide paperless services to foreign nationals, the Indian Bureau of Immigration has introduced a web-based application (e-FRRO) aimed at building a centralised online platform for foreigners providing visa-related services. The above application has been rolled out on a pilot basis in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai and will be implemented in phases in other locations.
How would e-FRRO work
Foreign nationals would need to file their application on the immigration portal through their registered userID for visa and immigration-related services viz., registration, visa extension, visa conversion, exit permit etc., without their personal visit to the FRRO office, which has been the practice.
Such foreign nationals should have a valid e-mail address and a mobile number in India for receiving a one-time password and other status updates/alerts at various stages of processing. On approval of the application, the documents i.e., registration permit/certificate (RP/RC), visa extension certificate etc., shall be sent by post on the address mentioned and to the registered email address.
Only in certain exceptional cases, the foreigner will be intimated to visit the FRRO/FRO for an interview on a scheduled date and time.
Further, only in case of exigency, the foreigner can visit the FRRO/FRO office directly for grant of service. Upon successful uploading of application and documents, the foreigner would be intimated to deposit the requisite fee online, if any, for the service. Fee for such services need to be deposited online through bank payment gateways available on the portal. The amount of fee would be intimated through email/SMS alerts.
The above initiative introduced by the government would be welcomed by the expat community and ensures that the process of obtaining immigration approvals is going to become more convenient and paperless.
(By Akhil Chandna, Director, Grant Thornton India LLP, with inputs from CA Girish Varandani)