The Indian government has deferred until further notice mandatory online registration for Indian citizens holding Non-Emigration Check Required (non-ECR or ECNR) passports travelling to 18 countries, including Qatar, for employment.
The decision was conveyed by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) through a notice posted on the portal, Wednesday.
The move came after Indian expatriates in Qatar and other countries expressed concern over an advisory of the MEA, dated November 14, on mandatory registration for ECNR passport holders. The new rule was to come into effect from January 1, 2019.
In its notice Wednesday, the MEA said the advisory has now been put in abeyance.
“With reference to the Ministry of External Affairs advisory dated 14th November, 2018 on the above subject, it is informed that the ministry has been receiving representations from various quarters, including non-ECR passport holders already employed in ECR countries, regarding difficulties faced by them in registration at,” according to the notice issued by M C Luther, joint secretary and protector-general of emigrants. 
“The Indian missions in those countries have also forwarded representations received by them from the local Indian community,” the notice continued. “In view of the above, the competent authority has decided to keep this advisory, regarding registration of non-ECR passport holders, in abeyance until further orders.”
However, if any such emigrant wants to register voluntarily as earlier, he/she can do so, the notice adds.
The full notice can be viewed here.
In the earlier advisory, the MEA said the registration for ECNR passport holders travelling to Qatar and the 17 other countries for employment had to be completed at at least 24 hours before departure. Those who failed to register would not be allowed to travel to these countries starting January 1, it added.
The decision was taken to “provide protection and welfare to Indian emigrants abroad”, the advisory said. “Off-loading of unregistered non-ECR emigrants at the airports would be effected by the appropriate authority after January 1, 2019,” it added, noting that there was no change in existing procedures for all other visa categories.
However, expatriates said there was some confusion and the advisory had not addressed a number of issues. The MEA later issued a list of FAQs providing clarifications.
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