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Updated: July 17, 2013 10:35 IST

Overstaying foreigners become cause for concern

V. S. Palaniappan
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The Hindu

Foreigners who want to stay over 180 days should register their names

Recent incidents of arrest of foreigners from African countries on charges of overstaying reported in Tirupur district seem to be an eye-opener on the need for tightening the mechanism to check the visit and overstay of foreigners.

According to Foreigners Registration Office (Police Commissioner is the Foreigners Registration Officer in Cities and Superintendents of Police is the registration office in the districts), any foreigner visiting the country is required to register their name with the District Superintendent of Police in districts or with the Commissioner of Police in cities, in the event of the foreigner intending to stay for more than 180 days.

In Chennai, the registration is being handled by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) at Chennai, coming under the Bureau of Immigration.

However, Pakistan nationals and Afghan nationals visiting India should register within 24 hours and 14 days respectively.

Problems or lapses in reporting the arrival of a foreign guest often led to overstaying of foreign nationals especially with hotels, home stay facilities and resorts not complying with the guideline in reporting the stay of a foreign national.

Hotels and such stay facilities are expected to furnish the details to the police station on a daily basis.

Overstaying for up to 30 days beyond the visa period could be regularised, if there were deserving and genuine reasons for the stay.

Beyond that the same would be referred to State Government and the Union Government, an official pointed out.

Registration of Foreigners coming to India with a visa of more than 180 days is a must under the Registration of Foreigners Act of 1939 (Rule 1992).

Rented houses

Similarly, people who let their house on rent to foreign nationals should also make it a point to inform the police.

In the event of the same happening, it would become difficult to trace the foreign nationals staying beyond the visa period, an official involved in immigration procedures pointed out.

The case of Tirupur had been peculiar as foreign nationals, especially those from African countries, tend to overstay and indulge in business relating to hosiery products as there was good demand for those products.

African nationals come on a tourist visa, business visa and general visa and keep shifting houses and place of stay for more than the visa period, an official pointed out.

Last month, there had been cases against more than 10 such African nationals in Tirupur district alone.

The law had to deal with them firmly to ensure that overstay by foreign nationals and their business dealings should never lead to unhealthy business practices or instances of white collar crime as far as Tirupur was concerned.

In addition, the African nationals also formed a network and there had been instances in the past, wherein they had shot out intimidating e-mails demanding money.

There is also a suspicion about these foreign nationals sending e-mails and SMS to hapless victims, announcing prizes in lotteries.

West Zone alone had more than 4,048 foreigners visiting India and the highest was in Nilgiris on account of tourism, while visitors to Salem, Namakkal and Coimbatore was for reasons of higher education and health care, police said.

Last year alone, Tirupur had 12 instances of overstaying cases being registered against foreigners.

Coimbatore City during 2012 had 445 foreign nationals visiting and in 2013 (till June 30) it was 147 and in both the years so far there had been 83 cases of overstaying.

Now, the police in City and West Zone are keeping a tab on the entry of foreigners and their stay and to ensure that none stayed beyond the visa period, especially in the wake of the Tirupur experience.

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