Immigration Law

Immigration Law in India refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country. Immigration law belongs to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people in matters such as citizenship. Immigration laws differ from country to country, as well as according to the political climate of the times. International law regulates the immigration law regarding the citizens of a country. 

Immigration in the modern sense refers to movement of people from one nation-state to another, where they are not citizens. Immigration implies long-term permanent residence by the immigrants. Tourists and short-term visitors are not considered immigrants. However, seasonal labour migration (typically for periods of less than a year) is often treated as a form of immigration. 

More often, people migrate due to economic reasons. The reasons of attractive incentives for migration are known as Pull factors and the compelling circumstances forcing Migration are known as Push factors which are mainly the reasons for Emigration from the country of origin. The push factors may be war, poverty, natural disasters etc. And pull factors may be political stability, higher incomes, family reasons.

Immigration Law is the law which exclusively governs immigration in a nation. Immigration law refers to the rules established by the concerned government of a country for determining who is allowed to enter their country, and for how long. When a foreign national enters without permission, overstays his/ her visit, or otherwise loses his/ her legal status, immigration law controls how the detention and removal proceedings are carried out. Generally speaking, people from foreign countries obtain permission to come to the particular country through a visa approval process. Visas are available for two purposes. Immigrant visas are for those who want to stay in that country and become employed there. Non-immigrant visas are for tourists, students, and business people. International Law regulates Immigration Law concerning the citizens of a country. In this regard the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is relevant. The International Organization for Migration is the main intergovernmental organization in the field of Migration.  

The objective of immigration is gaining citizenship or nationality in a different country. In India, the law relating to citizenship or nationality is mainly governed by the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution of India provides for single citizenship for the entire country. The provisions relating to citizenship are contained in Articles 5 to 11 in Part-II of the Constitution of India. Article-5 to 9 of the Constitution determine the status of persons as Indian citizens at the commencement of the Constitution. Article 10 provides for their continuance as such citizens subject to the provisions of any law that may be enacted by the legislature. Under Article 11, the Constitution expressly saves the power of Parliament “to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship”. Article 5 states that at the commencement of this Constitution, every person belonging to the following categories, who has his domicile in the territory of India, shall be a citizen of India:

  • Who was born in the territory of India; or 
  • Either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or
  • Who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement;

The Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 had been enacted to provide for the expulsion of certain immigrants from Assam. The Immigration (Carriers’ liability) Act, 2000 was enacted with the objective of confronting the problem of arrival of large number of passengers without any valid travel documents by the carriers in contravention of the Passport Act, 1920. The Immigration services at the major International Airports in India and the Foreigners’ registration work in five major cities, are handled by the Bureau of Immigration. The field officers in charge of immigration and registration activities at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Amritsar are called Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs). Apart from the FRROs who look after the immigration/registration functions in the above mentioned five cities, the concerned Districts Superintendents of Police function as Foreigners Registration Officers (FROs) in all the states in the country.

All foreigners including foreigners of Indian origin visiting India on long term (more than 180 days) Student visa (including those coming for study of Yoga, Vedic Culture, Indian system of dance and Music), Research Visa, Employment Visa, Medical, Medical Attendant and Missionary Visa will be required to get themselves registered with concerned Registration Officer within 14 days of his/her first arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay. Foreigners visiting India on other categories of long term visa including business/Entry visa would not require registration with the concerned FRROs/FROs if duration of his/her stay does not exceed 180 days on a single visit. In case a foreigner intends to stay for more than 180 days on a single visit he should get himself registered well before the expiry of 180 days. Pakistan Nationals are required to register within 24 hours and Afghanistan Nationals are required to register within 7 days of their arrival in India. Children below 16 years of age do not require registration, on any type of visa.  Such Foreign nationals, who are already holding long term Tourist Visas for 10/5 years with stay stipulation of 180 days/90 days and with multiple entry facility, there should be gap of at least 2 months between two visits to the country on Tourist Visa. In case of requirement to visit the country within two months, permission should be sought from the Head of Mission concerned indicating the specific reasons for another visit within a short period. In all such cases registration would be required within 14 days of arrival. This includes foreigners holding Tourist Visa who after initial entry into India had gone out of the country largely on account of neighborhood tourism related travel and are re-entering India within two months before their final exit from India. However, Immigration authorities in all Immigration Check Posts may allow such foreign nationals on Tourist Visa to make two or three entries into the country (need based) subject to production of an itinerary and supporting documentation (Ticket bookings). Though no fee is required to be paid for registration, yet a penalty in Indian currency equivalent to US$-30/- (Rs.1395/-) in case of late registration is charged. Every foreigner at the time of Registration, is required to furnish, such information in registration report, as may be in his possession for the purpose of satisfying the Registration Officer and shall, on being required, sign the registration report in the presence of the said officer and shall thereupon be entitled to receive from the said officer a certificate of registration. Every foreigner who is about to depart finally from India is required to surrender his certificate of registration either to the Registration Officer of the place where he is registered or of the place from where he intends to depart or to the Immigration Officer at the Port/Check post of exit at the time of final departure from India. If the certificate is surrendered other than to the Immigration Officer of the port or check post of exit, a receipt indicating such surrender of the document may be obtained and shown to the Immigration Officer at the time of final departure.

Immigration check is conducted for all passengers, Indians or foreigners, both at the time of arrival and departure. The passports are duly stamped at arrival as well as departure. All passengers, Foreigners as well as Indians, coming to India or departing from India are required to fill-up D (Disembarkation) Card and E (Embarkation) Cards at arrival and departure respectively. The following information is required to be provided by the passengers in these cards:-

Generally specific powers of Visa conversions and extensions to foreigners residing in India, vests with the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi. The change of Visa status from one category to another category is normally not allowed. It can be considered by the Ministry of Home Affairs only in extraordinary circumstances. However, for the convenience of the foreigners, the FRROs/District Superintendents of Police (ex-officio FROs) are empowered to make some conversions/extensions for certain types of Visas without referring the same to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The US law provides a path to citizenship for workers and investors, the most common grounds for granting legal status is family-based immigration. This process begins when a permanent resident or U.S. citizen files a petition on behalf of a family member in a foreign country. U.S. citizens can sponsor family members who qualify as “immediate relatives.” These include spouses, parents of a citizen, unmarried children under age 21. Federal Agencies charged with administering and enforcing immigration laws in USA are as follows- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Customs and Border Protection (CBP). All three agencies are part of the Department of Homeland Security. Laws Governing US Immigrations are as follows- Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); Etc. There are various types of visas for USA such as- H-1B visas; EB-1 Visas; EB-5 Visas; Etc. Visas are limited by country-specific quotas, just as there are major two types of legal status which the USA bestows on the immigrants, namely, Permanent Residency (a Green Card) and full Citizenship. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates those who break the law, and prosecutes offenders. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles applications for legal immigration. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for keeping the borders secure. 

Hello Counsel is providing immigration services in India. We provide a wide range of immigration services ranging from immigration consulting services to assistance in filing of immigration visas and non immigration visas. Our immigration lawyers have great deal of experience in handling wide variety of immigration matters. We specialize in U.S Immigration laws and work closely with Immigration lawyers of the United States to provide best assistance to our clients in getting work visas, spouse visas, fiancée visas, alien relative visas, student visas, tourist visas, family immigration visas, intra company transfers, medical visa, exchange visitor visa, business visa, transit visa, media representative visa, etc. Our Immigration practice also includes employment-based petitions, foreign adoptions, or deportation defense.

We provide assistance in filing applications, petitions, forms and answering queries about immigration law in real time. We represent clients in case of prohibition of issuance of visa under section 221 (g) of the Immigration Nationality Act on ground of failure to present documents or to meet requirements of United States law or regulation governing issuance of visa. We provide immigration consulting services to our clients. We also provide opinions on all kinds of visas.

We work closely with US Embassy in India. We specialize in Indian Immigration services and provide assistance to our foreign clients in getting a tourist visa, Indian business visa, Indian work permit, Indian student visa, medical visa, entry visa, employment visa etc. We regularly assist our clients with a full range of employment-based immigration matters, including all temporary and permanent visa processing procedures, as well as assist individual employees with family-based immigration sponsorship and naturalization. We also work closely with our clients in selecting and obtaining the most appropriate visas for foreign national start-up personnel. 

We provide assistance to our clients in filing applications, petitions for registration for the status of a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI). We assist with registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) for issuance of Residential Permit and Registration Certificate. 

Vital Features Of Immigration Laws

  • Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)-Registration As OCI Card Holder  
  • Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card [With Lifetime Validity]- Who Can Apply & How Can Apply
  • Green Card
  • H-1B Visas
  • EB-1 Visas
  • EB-5 Visas
  • Visa
  • Passport.
  • E-Visa Scheme- For Tourists, Business And Medical
  • Visa on arrival
  • Visa Extension
  • Registration Of Foreigners- There Are 86 Immigration Check Posts All Over India Under BOI And State Governments.
  • Research Visas
  • Student Visas.
  • Single Journey Visas (SJV) 
  • Chief Immigration Officers (CIOs)/ District Superintendent Of Police (SP)/ Prescribed Authority- Goa, Jaipur, Gaya, Varanasi, Nagpur, Pune, Mangalore, Trichy, Coimbatore, Bagdogra, Chandigarh And Guwahati.
  • Immigration, Visa Foreigners’ Registration And Tracking (IVFRT)- Under MHA/Boi,
  • National Informatics Center(NIC).
  • Indian Missions
  • Immigration Check Posts  (ICPS).
  • Immigration [Visa, Passport, PIO, Citizenship] & Related Laws.
  • Medical Visas.
  • Overseas Immigration
  • PAP- Protected Area Permit.
  • RAP- Restricted Area Permit.
  • Policy & Regulations Relating to foreign contributions and hospitality.
  • Employment Visas.
  • Foreign Marriages. 
  • Foreign Trade.
  • Visa Free Transit Facility (VFTF)- Australia [96 Hours].

Courts & Fora: Immigration Law In India

  • Bureau of Immigration– Headed by Commissioner of Immigration and assisted by FRROs
  • Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs)/ Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Calicut, Kochi, Trivandrum, Lucknow And Ahmedabad.
  • Foreigners Registration Officers (FROs): The concerned District Superintendents of Police are ex-officio FROs.
  • District Superintendent Of Police (SP)/ Prescribed Authority-  
  • Immigration Officers: At the Immigration services at the major International Airports in India.
  • Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Officers. 
  • Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC). 

Embassies, High Commissions, Consulate Generals, & Missions.

Legislations Governing Immigration Law In India

  • Constitution Of India,1950
  • Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Citizens (Registration at Indian Consulate) Rules, 1956.
  • Extradition Act, 1962. 
  • FCRA- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
  • FEMA- Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.
  • Foreign Aircraft (Exemption From Taxes And Duties On Fuel And Lubricants) Act, 2002. 
  • Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • Foreign Marriages Act & Rules, 1969.
  • Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964
  • Foreign Trade (Development And Regulation) Act, 1992.
  • Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950
  • Immigration (Carriers’ liability) Act, 2000
  • Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983
  • Passport Act, 1967.
  • Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 [TADA].
  • Immigration (Carriers’ Liability) Act, 2000.
  • Visa Manuals (Confidential, and not for public consumption)

International Legislations & Foras

  • International Organization for Migration.
  • Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)- Of USA
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)- Of USA
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)- Of USA
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)- Of USA- CBP, ICE & USCIS are part of the Department of Homeland Security.
  • United Nations Convention on Law of Sea, 1982
  • United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • PIO Card Scheme, 2002.

Judgments & Citations: : Immigration Law In India

  • Hari Shanker Jain Vs Sonia Gandhi– Supreme Court Of India Judgment- 12.09.2001- Appeal (Civil) 4400  of  2000- 8 SCC 233- Citizenship Issue- Election Petition- Petition was found devoid of merits [Full PDF Judgment].
  • Sarbananda Sonowal Versus Union of India, WP(C) No.117/2006, Judgment Dated- 05/12/2006, Bench: S.B. Sinha, J.: P.K. Balasubramanyan, J., Supreme Court Of India- 2006(Supp-10) SCR 167: 2007(1) SCC 174: 2006(13) SCALE 33: 2007(1) SLT 648.- Foreigners (Tribunal) Amendment Order, 2006- Amendment of Order of 1964- Violative of Articles 355 & 14 of Constitution- No rational reason has been put forward to justify such a separate treatment for Assam especially in context of report of the then Governor of Assam and earlier decision of this court- Therefore amendment to 1964 order has to be held to be violative of Article 355 and Article 14 of Constitution- Further if the order 1964 is found invalid, there is no question of Order, 2006 being promulgated to replace the 1964 order- Amendment Order 2006 and Assam Order, 2006 to be quashed- Direction to respondent to implement the direction of this court in its earlier decision in Sonowel-1, 2005(5) SCC 665- Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983- Citizenship Act, 1955- Section 6-A(3)- Foreigners Act, 1946- Section 3- Foreigners (Tribunal) for Assam Order, 2006- Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964- Constitution of India- Articles 355 & 14.- HELD: Nothing was also shown at the time of arguments to persuade us to come to a conclusion that the 1964 Order worked harshly on anyone who was sought to be proceeded against under the Foreigners Act and under that Order. The present exercise is therefore seen to be not a commendable attempt to evade the directions issued by this Court in the earlier round. That too, by way of subordinate legislation. Though, we would normally desist from commenting, when the security of the nation is the issue as highlighted in Sonowal I, we have to say that the bona fides of the action leaves something to be desired. Although bona fides on the part of authority vested with power to make delegated legislation ordinarily is not a relevant factor, the question is whether the manner in which it is sought to be done is sufficient in law to get rid of the judgment of this Court in Sonowal I. After thus removing the 1964 Order from the scene, the new Order of 2006 has been issued. Here also, except the reason already set out, no particular reason is given for making a departure from the existing procedure.- We shall first consider the validity of the amendment to the 1964 Order by notification No. GSR 57 (E) dated New Delhi, the 10th February 2006 so as to make it inapplicable to the State of Assam in the context of prayer (A) in W.P. (C) No. 119 of 2006. It has already been held in Sonowal I that the special treatment sought to be meted out to Assam is not justified and the extending of a special Act to that territory alone is discriminatory. The same reasoning applies on all fours to the removing of the 1964 Order from the scene. Such removal or such making of the Order of 1964 inoperative to the State of Assam alone is discriminatory and is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.- The Foreigners Tribunal, it is said, has not been set up in any other part of India except the State of Assam. A different regime, therefore, exists in Assam from the rest of the country. If no tribunal has been established in the rest of the country, foreigners are identified by the executive machinery of the State. Thus, the province of Assam only has been singled out for adopting a different procedure. The problem in regard to illegal migration faced by Assam is also faced by other States including the States of West Bengal, Tripura, etc. It is, therefore, not in dispute that two different procedures have been laid down by the Central Government by issuing two different notifications on the same day.- We may notice that this Court categorically opined that the procedure under the 1946 Act and the Rules were just and fair and did not offend any constitutional provision, while issuing a direction that the Tribunals under the IMDT Act would not function and the matter should be adjudicated upon in terms of the provisions of the 1946 Act and the Rules thereunder. By reason of the impugned Order the Central government has created tribunals only for Assam and for no other part of the country.- For the aforementioned reasons also, in our opinion, the impugned subordinate legislation cannot be sustained as it does not stand the test of the reasoning in Sonowal I.­- In the face of the clear directions issued in Sonowal I, it was for the Authority concerned to strength the Tribunals under the 1964 Order and to make them work. Instead of doing so, the 2006 Order has been promulgated. It is not as if the respondents have found the 1964 Order unworkable in the State of Assam; they have simply refused to enforce that Order in spite of directions in that behalf by this Court. It is not for us to speculate on the reasons for this attitude. The earlier decision in Sonowal, has referred to the relevant materials showing that such uncontrolled immigration into the North-Eastern States posed a threat to the integrity of the nation. What was therefore called for was a strict implementation of the directions of this Court earlier issued in Sonowal I, so as to ensure that illegal immigrants are sent out of the country, while in spite of lapse of time, the Tribunals under the 1964 Order had not been strengthened as directed in Sonowal I. Why it was not so done, has not been made clear by the Central Government. We have to once again lament with Sonowal I that there is a lack of will in the matter of ensuring that illegal immigrants are sent out of the country.- It appears that the 2006 Order has been issued just as a cover up for non-implementation of the directions of this Court issued in Sonowal I. The Order of 2006, in our view, is clearly unnecessary in the light of the 1946 Act and the Orders made thereunder and the directions issued in Sonowal I. It does not serve the purpose sought to be achieved by the 1946 Act or the Citizenship Act and the obligations cast on the Central Government to protect the nation in terms of Article 355 of the Constitution of India highlighted in Sonowal. We have also earlier struck down the repeal of the 1964 Order as regards Assam. The 2006 Order is therefore found to be unreasonable and issued in an arbitrary exercise of power. It requires to be quashed or declared invalid.- We therefore allow these Writ Petitions and quash the 2006 order and the Foreigners (Tribunal) Amendment Order 2006 and direct the respondents to forthwith implement the directions issued by this Court in Sonowal [Full PDF Judgment].
  • State Trading Corporation Of India Ltd. & Others Vs Commercial Tax Officer, Visakhapatnam And Others- Supreme Court Of India Judgment- 26.07.1963- 1963 AIR 1811– Citizenship Issue- Fundamental Right, Enforcement of-Corporation, if a citizen entitled to claim fundamental rights-Constitution of  India- Art-19(1)(f)- Art-19(1)(g)- Art-32- persons- citizens- nationals- Nationality and citizenship are not  synonymous [Full PDF Judgment].

Judgments- Foreign Law Firms

  • A K Balaji- Bar Council Of India [BCI] Vs. A K Balaji– Foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers- Cannot practice profession of law in India either in the litigation or in nonlitigation side- there was no bar for the foreign law firms or foreign lawyers to visit India for a temporary period on a “fly in and fly out” basis for the purpose of giving legal advice to their clients in India regarding foreign law or their own system of law and on diverse international legal issues. We hold that the expression “fly in and fly out” will only cover a casual visit not amounting to “practice” [Full PDF Judgment].

Kindly CLICK HERE, call our helpline at (+91) 98-712-712-05, or e-mail us at if you wish to talk to a lawyer or are facing any other Legal Issue and want to have Legal Consultations with the empaneled Lawyers at Hello Counsel.

Need A Lawyer? We Can Get You One.

Fill This Form If You Wish To Hire A Lawyer
Know More

Find A Lawyer

Fill This Form If You Wish To Retain A Lawyer
Know More

Retain A Lawyer

Like us? Leave us a review.