India: Foreign Nationals Face New Procedures and Increased Waiting Times
Foreign nationals residing within the jurisdiction of the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) in Bangalore now must follow new registration procedures due to the elevation of the FRO to the status of Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) on January 11. As an FRRO, the office will provide an increased immigration enforcement presence in the city. Registration applicants should be prepared for increased wait times to file applications and collect documentation as a result of the procedural changes.
The Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) in Bangalore has been elevated to the status of a Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO), effective January 11, 2010. The move to FRRO operations in Bangalore has resulted in several procedural changes, as well as additional security requirements, which have increased wait times for foreign nationals registering their presence in India.
Foreign nationals holding any visa valid for more than 180 days must register at their local FRRO or FRO within 14 calendar days of arrival in India. The registration requirement, if applicable, is generally noted on the visa. A new registration must be completed when a visa is renewed, or if the registered foreign national’s personal information (such as a residential address) has changed.
While it was previously necessary for a registration applicant to appear in person at the Bangalore FRO only when filing a registration application, Bangalore registration applicants (including children) are now required to visit the FRRO in person both to submit applications and for endorsement and collection of immigration documentation. In addition, applications may only be submitted between 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., while submissions previously were accepted from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Documents can now be collected only between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. On a positive note, the Bangalore FRRO will process registration applications in one working day, whereas the processing time at the Bangalore FRO was typically three to five working days.
The reduction in application and collection hours has resulted in long queues at the Bangalore FRRO and applicants should be prepared for longer wait times. However, a new system may be introduced in the coming weeks to help streamline the application process and reduce wait times.
The elevation of the Bangalore FRO to an FRRO was due to a need for an increased immigration enforcement presence in the city, a result of Bangalore’s rapid development as the information technology hub of India and the large number of foreign companies and foreign nationals settling there. An FRO office is usually a Commissioner of Police or District Superintendent of Police office that also oversees in-country immigration functions and reports to the State Government. An FRRO is dedicated entirely to in-country immigration procedures and reports to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs and the Intelligence Bureau. The FRRO in Bangalore is the sixth such office in the country. There are also FRROs in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Amritsar.
Please note that Fragomen staff are available to provide guidance to assignees and to accompany assignees to the Bangalore FRRO, as needed, and will be present at the Bangalore FRRO to assist with any difficulties that might arise.
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