A recent advisory issued by India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that Indian citizens holding Non-Emigration Check Required (non-ECR or ECNR) passports will now to have to mandatorily register themselves online before travelling to 18 countries, including Qatar, on an employment visa, has raised some concerns and confusion among the Indian residents in Qatar.
According to a copy of MEA’s advisory dated November 14, and provided by Indian embassy in Qatar, “ECNR passport holders travelling to 18 ECR countries on employment visa have to register in eMigrate system, at least 24 hours prior to their departure. Their registration confirmation would be verified by Bureau of Immigration at emigration counters prior to their departure”
“Those already working overseas are not required to register while they are overseas. However, if they come on vacation and are returning back, on the same employment they would need to register. This is only required one time for a given employment duration,” the circular continues.
“Off-loading of unregistered non-ECR emigrants at the airports would be effected by the appropriate authority after January 1, 2019,” according to the advisory which adds there is no change in existing procedures for all other visa categories.
The new regulation is applicable for all the Indian nationals on employment visa in these 18 countries as well as the new employees recruited to these countries. While the new employees have to complete the registration before they travel to their country of employment, the existing employees in these countries have to complete it while they are abroad or during their visit to India. They have to complete the registration at least one day before their travel back to their country of employment.
However, Indian residents in Qatar point out several areas which the advisory has not addressed to.
Frequently Asked Questions – ECNR Registration
“The new regulation says that people have to register online at least one day prior to their travel. If not, they will not be allowed to travel. There might be many who may not be aware of the new regulation. Will there be some manual system to register at the airport at least in the initial months, if people fail to register online beforehand,” asked a resident.
As per the new system, the users have to start registering at the portal using the OTP received on their Indian mobile number. “Yesterday, I tried to register my details by requesting for an OTP on my Indian mobile number on roaming facility. But I did not get the OTP and therefore failed to initiate the registration process. Does it mean that we can do the registration only while being in India? There must be some alternate methods of registration using other means such as email,” noted another Indian.
“What happens to a person going on a single day visit? I am planning to travel in January for just a day and how can I complete the formality in this case. Is there any provision for such passengers? Also is there any provision to identify the women who are on family sponsorship as most of the residence permit cards details could be in Arabic,’ asked an anxious expatriate.
The information required to be filled for the registration is minimal, like name, passport number, country of employment, and employer’s name.
According to the advisory, the objective for the registration is to collect the data of Indian emigrants so that they can be reached without delay in case of any eventuality. Implementation of this registration is only phase I of the plan so as to ensure that the system works smoothly and there are no hiccups.
The advisory also states that the registration process will have no impact to the employment contract and once registered, cancellation of registration is not allowed.
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