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Immigration Law: Meaning and Significance

Background of Immigration Laws?

As the globalization period progressed, people began to migrate in increasing numbers in search of social, political, and economic stability. With a wide variety of attractions, India, a nation with many different races and traditions, draws immigrants from all over the world. Transferring people from one country to another with the goal of establishing a permanent presence is known as immigration. The largest challenge for immigrants is becoming citizens of the host country and exercising their fundamental rights there.

Despite the fact that humans have been migrating for hundreds of thousands of years, when we talk of immigration today, we mean the movement of individuals from one nation-state to another where they are not citizens. Immigration means that the immigrants will live there permanently for a long time. Tourists and casual guests are not regarded as immigrants. However, seasonal labour movement that lasts for less than a year is frequently considered to be immigration.

Immigration law is the only type of legislation that controls immigration in a country. Immigration Law and a country's Nationality Law, which regulates citizenship issues, are connected insofar as foreign nationals are concerned. Immigration Law as it relates to a nation's residents is governed by international law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations is pertinent in this regard. The primary international body in the topic of migration is the International Organization for Migration. To aid those who had been displaced by the Second World War, it was first established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. This organisation is dedicated to supporting humane and organised migration for everyone's benefit.

What is the need of Immigration Laws?

The laws governing the entry and exit into a foreign territory of a natural person who isn’t the citizen of that country are known as immigration laws.

These aspects are different from the topics of citizenship and naturalization. These laws also govern the internal rights and the ambit of permissions regarding freedom to move within such country and rights to participate within the governmental matters.

In order to control and take up immigrations in the own hands the governments of countries have set up customs department. These departments scrutinize such persons by way of inspecting their documents carried by them such as passports and other identity proof possessed by them at the time of arrival at the customs department.

The major reasons commonly seen as to why people, majorly Indians migrate to other better developed countries are as follows:

  • Better educational opportunities.

  • Better jobs

  • Political reasons.

  • Upliftment of standard of living

  • Medical reasons

The employers there then provide with so much better opportunities to freshers and college students that the immigrants are tempted to seek citizenship there only.

The immigration in India is governed by the Bureau of Immigration is the government undertaking responsible for immigration related facilities at the airport and other foreigner related documentations.

The organization is headed by the commissioner at present the position is held by Mr.Rajeev Ranjan Verma and the parent ministry is the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by Shri. Amit Shah.

Contemporary Laws

Part II of the Constitution deals with citizenship particularly Article 5 to 11, which define a citizen as someone having Indian ancestry in the family or someone who resides in India. Foreigners' continued status as Indian citizens is addressed under Article 10, subject to any laws passed by the legislature in the future. Dual citizenship is not recognized by the Indian constitution, which only acknowledges one citizenship for the entirety of the nation. Additionally, it states that a foreign national may become an Indian citizen by naturalisation (having lived regularly in India for 14 years) and registering as a foreigner with the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Officer) or FRO (Foreigners Registration Officer). The Indian law follows jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) as opposed to jus soli (citizenship by birth).

The Passport (Entry in India) Act, 1920, overseas nationals must obtain visas from the separate Indian missions located in their countries of origin. The legislation also specifies which documentation must be presented by foreigners in order for them to be permitted to enter and cross Indian territory. Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens do not need visas to enter India. Visas are issued for a six-month term. However, the concerned foreigners can get in touch with FRO or FRRO to extend the same.

The government of India issues a variety of visas, including those for film, study, transit, internships, business, and employment. These are available for both traditional and electronic visa applications. A unique Protected Area Permit (PAP) is required in addition to a conventional visa for admission into some restricted regions of India.

A key piece of legislation governing foreigners' entry into and stay in India up to their departure is the Foreigners Act of 1946. The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992, essentially make provisions for the lawful registration of foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas in the nation. A registration officer is required to register you.

Significance of Immigration

There is a growing competition among industrialized nations to entice skilled labour from emerging nations due to the labour shortage in several of them. It is thought that this trend to import labour to address the labour deficit in industrialized nations presents both possibilities and problems for the countries where the labour is coming from. India, a major exporter of labour, must consider the potential long-term effects on both the Indian economy and the Indian diaspora. Given the demographic changes and India's own role in developing human capital, two scenarios for the country are plausible.

The productive population of India, or those between the ages of 15 and 60, will cease growing in the upcoming years, stabilize at 64 percent of the overall population from 2025 to 2050, and then decline to 62 percent of the total population in 2050, says the World Population Council in 2008. If the current pace of migration out of the nation does not decline, it may result in a scarcity of skilled labour in India as well. Currently, the government is concentrating on the quick advantages of immigration. However, the emigration trend reveals that the migrants are high-skilled workers who are already in short supply, such as academics, scientists, engineers, physicians, and management and IT experts. This might result in a loss in productivity. Additionally, there will be a significant teacher and researcher deficit, which will lead to low-quality pupils graduating from educational institutions.

According to the second scenario, China and India would both become significant global players with a significant effect on the geopolitical environment. India is in a good position to take the lead in technology in the ensuing decades. The country is predicted to rise as a result of rising military capabilities, rapid economic growth that is sustainable, and a significant demographic dividend. Its chances in the upcoming global economy may be improved by knowledge and technology involving the confluence of nano, bio, information, and material technologies. A significant increase in financial resources for the social sector, particularly for research and education, would assist India in overtaking other countries as the world's greatest producer of knowledge workers.

The two hypothetical situations that have just been presented are based on current indices of economic performance and development potential. Nothing is certain to occur. However, forecasts offer material for thought and aid in going forward with some level of anticipated consequences. Therefore, if projections are based on reliable empirical indicators, they should be accorded the weight they deserve in policy considerations. India's immigration strategy should thus be based on key statistics with significant social and economic implications which are as follows -

  1. Such laws are both enabling and prohibiting in nature so that there is a balance maintained between the exposure India needs and the guard in needs to keep with regard to foreign interference.

  2. Helps the country to become more diverse with admission of vast culture into its land.

  3. Helps to filter out the other nationals so that unidentified, fugitives and terrorists do not dwell upon the Indian soil.

  4. Also helps differentiate the rights accessible to the citizens and the casual travellers.

  5. Enables to meet up with the basic idea of globalization by permitting exchange of human resource which carry with them their authentic cultures, ideas, technical know-how , mentality ,ideals and so on that helps a country to keep up with the dynamic mankind across the globe but with reasonable restrictions holding together an independent democratic republic.

  6. It also helps regulate as well as promote the foreign exchange as these immigrants do invest in Indian markets.

History of immigration in and Around India

India was born under a refugee crisis and as it grappled with Partition in its early years. The Dalai Lama and his disciples introduced the first ethical challenge to the movement in the late 1950s. India protected them, but it came at a high political price. The choice aided in the nascent nation's entry into a brutal conflict with China. Jawaharlal Nehru's sense of justice served as a major inspiration for the moral act of providing asylum for Tibetans. India learned from the experience to balance friendliness with political realities.

In 1971, 10 million refugees, largely Hindus and members of minorities who had suffered genocide, arrived from East Pakistan, posing a much, far bigger difficulty. India has always kept her doors open for those in distress, whatever the price, whatever the burden and Indira Gandhi swore to defend them. She started a regime transition after visiting all the major cities in the world and winning the support of the international media. When India's army did the partition of Pakistan, a large number of refugees came home, and Bangladesh was created.

When Bhutan evacuated its Lhotshampa minority in the late 2000s, forcing them to trek via India to join their camps in Nepal, this unique strategy was on display. Many people choose to remain in India.

Latest Amendment In Foreigners Registration Rules

The order of valid passports and such other documents relating to passport hold significance as many people from Afghanistan were not able to return or had decided to stay back in India after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021. India issued 200 e-Emergency X-Miscellaneous visas, out of 60,000 applications, to Afghan nationals. The passports of many Afghans seem to have either expired and are not valid anymore. The Passport Act states that a foreigner unless exempted through a government order, needs to be in possession of a valid passport to continue to stay in India.

Our government had last year extended the visas of all Afghan nationals living in India until further orders. “They will not be granted exit or issued leave India notice by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) without prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the September 2, 2021, order had said.

This amendment was made to offer a safe as well as friendly hand towards the individuals of a troubled and tarnished state.

It also upheld India upon humanitarian grounds which shows that our country is a home to all who do not conspire to compromise its precious integrity and safety.

The future of such change is also positive as it will help in the arena of ease of doing business among both the nations.

Entry Into India

For legitimate entry into Indian borders, all international visitors require a visa. The same is exempted to the Nepalese or Bhutanese nationals. The visa enables the visitors to stay in India for a maximum of 180 days. If a visa is needed for a longer period of time (greater than 180 days), the applicant must first register with the FRRO or FRO.

Business , Employment , Intern , Transit , Student , Film visas, etc. are all available via the Indian government and can be obtained as a standard visa or an E-visa. Aside from the above-mentioned valid visas, there are limited regions inside India that require a specific entrance permission known as a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to name some are -

  1. Parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan

  2. Whole of Mizoram and Nagaland allows travellers to access the restricted zones. This authorization must be obtained in addition to the usual visa requirement.

Penalties In Contravention of The Foreigners Act,1946

1. Any person who tries to get access to the restricted areas unlawfully shall be imprisoned from 2 years to 8 years and shall be also made liable to pay minimum of 10000 rupees.

2. Any person who uses a forged passport to enter into the territory shall be also similarly dealt with jail time from 2 to 8 years and with a fine to a limit of 50,000 rupees.

Illegal Immigration

It is difficult to subject India's inhabitants to a standard differentiation based on their outer appearance or country of origin in such a varied nation. Since, India is so ethnically diverse, with individuals from Bangladesh to Portuguese, it has a great sense of acceptance among its citizens. India is a nation that always seeks peace and tranquilly, and it abides by U.N. regulations governing foreign relations. However, it has been noted that there is a significant influx of immigrants from Bangladesh who come to this country in search of easy, affordable, and accessible jobs as labourers, housekeepers, and rickshaw drivers. On the other hand, there is little information available on illegal immigrants, and the Bangladeshi government offers no legal assistance.

Therefore, the Indian government is responsible for handling the illegal immigration. Under this criterion provided by the Foreigners Act, 1946, which is the country's governing law, leaving a country for economic reasons is not considered to be a refugee, as is the case for the majority of Bangladeshis living in India. Therefore, it is vital to handle this group of individuals differently. This is an important reason to look into Bangladesh's illegal immigration problem and it further necessitates the introduction and enforcement of national regulations on refugees.

India does not have any rules or regulations governing the status of those seeking asylum or who are refugees. Actually, the 1946 General Foreigners Act governed these individuals. In most circumstances, recognised refugees in India do not have the freedom to move about freely or the ability to work. According to Indian law, anyone entering the country without the proper papers indicating authorization runs the possibility of being deported. Only particular refugee groups, such as Tibetans and Tamils from Sri Lanka, are officially recognised by and get direct assistance from the Indian government. Some refugees, including those fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, must ask UNHCR directly for a "determination of refugee status." For this purpose, individuals must visit the UNHCR office in New Delhi, where the UNHCR determines if they meet the criteria.

The Rohingya refugee crisis is a recent issue that India had to deal with. India formally rejected their admission for this reason, causing a worldwide outcry. It is high time for a nation like India to develop a proper legal framework to deal with the influx of immigrants through illegal means and should become a signatory to the 1951 Refugee convention and its 1967 protocol by passing the Asylum Bill, which has been proposed by Shashi Tharoor in the Lok Sabha. There were no hardened barriers, and the flow of Rohingya was constant.

Immigrant Rules and Restrictions

Certain laws have been enacted to streamline the process of foreigners obtaining citizenship, including:

1. Foreigners entering India need to get visas from India Missions under the Passport (Entry in India) Act, 1920.

2. The same law also specifies which papers must be submitted during their lawful journey in order to be admitted to the nation.

3. The Foreigners Statute, 1946 - This act governs foreigners' admission and stay within Indian territory till they leave.

4. The Foreigners Registration Act of 1939 and the Foreigners Registration Rules of 1992 - Certain foreigners who remain longer than their visa period is required to register with the Registration Officer.


M.P. Shashi Tharoor submitted a bill in the Lok Sabha that aims to create an effective mechanism to safeguard asylum seekers and refugees via the use of the legal system. He stated that the Asylum Bill, 2021 would provide a legislative framework for deciding on asylum requests, as well as rights and duties resulting from that status and issues related to it.

The proposed law aims to take into account India's international duties, the Constitution's guiding principles, and the country's present refugee policy. The bill states the asylum seekers' status as refugees and their rights within the nation are clarified and uniformed by the provisions of the bill. Additionally, it aims to change the ambiguous and arbitrary system that too frequently causes injustice to a population that is extremely vulnerable.

The measure also aims to strike a balance between state security objectives and humanitarian concerns, giving the government more control and accountability over how refugees are managed.

In the statement, Tharoor outlined the bill's justification by explaining that the problems that might occur when dealing with a large inflow were brought into striking contrast by the Rohingya tragedy and all nations, including India, should now revaluate their existing preparation and response to mass migrations and refugee crises.

India is the epicentre of the South Asian region's refugee flows and is home to more than two lakh refugees. According to the bill, it has served as a haven for refugees from nearby nations including Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Nepal. As a result, it becomes imperative to investigate India's immigration laws and practises in great depth.

In truth, the bill is a great start and it should be embraced, but there is much room for improvement. The bill introduced by Tharoor is almost a carbon copy of an earlier one from 2006. But a lot has occurred in the past ten years, not the least of which is the migrant crisis in Europe, which has important lessons to teach about managing mixed flows and refugees.

However, Tharoor's Bill is unaware of it all. The biggest let-down is that it doesn't contribute anything new. In reality, Tharoor's Bill undermines the previous 2006 plan in one important way. He limits the protection from deportation to refugees who are already in India, leaving those at the border susceptible to denial. The Bill also lacks provisions for diversified asylum, methods for handling mixed flows, safeguards against statelessness, prohibitions against militarization, and models for refugee administration. Therefore, the Parliament needs to critically analyse the bill and related issue and should come up with a suitable legislation.


1. Who governs the Immigration in India?

Ans - The immigration in India is governed by the Bureau of Immigration is the government undertaking responsible for immigration related facilities at the airport and other foreigner related documentations.

2. Who is the head of the organisation responsible for immigration in India?

Ans - The organization is headed by the Commissioner. At present the position is held by Mr.Rajeev Ranjan Verma.

3. Which ministry governs Ministry of Home Affairs?

Ans - The parent ministry is the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by Shri. Amit Shah.

4. How many days can a Foreign Citizen obtain visa for?

Ans - The visa enables the visitors to stay in India for a maximum of 180 days.

5. What is the procedure if any Foreign Citizen wants to visit for more than 180 days?

Ans - If any Foreign Citizen requires visa is for a longer period of time i.e. greater than 180 days, the applicant must first register with the FRRO or FRO.

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