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Immigration Law in India Is there a need for reform

Migrating from one place to another has been there in the world from the beginning of humankind. People used to move from one place to another for food, work, education, etc. In the modern world, immigration means people going from one country to another country where they are not residing, nor do they have citizenship. Immigration does not cover people who are tourists, or who are going to another country for a short period. It refers to people who are moving to another country for employment. We can take the example of Indians who move to the Middle East to work in the Oil Industries in countries like Saudi Arabia. Even students who go abroad for higher studies are also Immigrants. Major reasons for immigration can be educated society, more salary, more job opportunities, family etc. People who are victims of war or poverty or any other disaster also move to other countries due to problems in their origin country. I am not talking about Refugees because they go to other countries without visa. 

To govern the immigration in a country, immigration laws play a vital role. It concerns the citizens of the origin country and the foreign citizens who want to have the citizenship of the country they moved to. International Organisations also regulates the Immigration laws when there is a calamity in one country, and the citizens move to another. For example, for the 2nd world war, the International Organization for Migration was formed to help the displaced people during the war. 

Regarding India, the immigration provisions are there in Articles 5-11 of the Indian Constitution, where 5 to 9 mentions the status of Indian Citizens, whereas Articles 10 and 11 talk about providing citizenship to foreign citizens. In the Constitution of India, specific points are given that explains who shall be the citizen of India. Those are-

  1. Any person who was born in India
  2. One of the parents of the person was born in India
  3. Any person who has been living in India for 5 years or more. 

Article 6 of the Constitution gives citizenship rights to people who migrated from Pakistan to India. 

Specific other laws which are related to immigration are-

  1. The Immigrants (Deportation from Assam) Act of 1950- This Act is being created to deport certain immigrants from the state of Assam. This Act comes under the union list, and Central Government is being empowered to remove any citizen who is a citizen of India but it affects the interests of the People of India. 
  2. Carriers’ Liability(Immigration Act of 2000)- This law is made to tackle passengers who came to India without any correct documents through carriers. This Act includes a fine of 1 lakh Rs on carriers who violate the Passport Act’s provisions by bringing any person without any legal documents. 

Bureau of Immigration is the authority which is given the powers to regulate the immigrations in India. The offices are there in 5 major cities including New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bombay as well as Amritsar. Officers who are in Immigration Bureau are called Foreigners Regional Registration Officers. They are in-charge of all the registration as well as verification works. In other cities and states where offices of Immigration Bureau are not there, one can consult the nearest Deputy Superintendent of Police office for Immigration facilities. 

The Immigration Bureau gives certain kinds of Visas to Foreigners. These include Student Visa, which is given to students who want to study in India, Employment Visa which is given to people who came to India to work. For Medical Purposes, Medical Visa is also provided for those who will be treated in the hospitals in India. Countries like Nepal and Bhutan are visa-free which means that a person need not require a visa to travel to-and-fro from these countries to India. 

Reforms in Immigration law has not been done much in the last 75 years. Governments are needed to amend the Immigration Act from time to time with the situation prevailing. A major reform which is addition of a new visa named “Refugee Visa” is needed. India’s Neighbouring countries are not stable at this moment be it Pakistan or Myanmar due to the Religious Persecution of citizens of their countries. Apart from that, faster visa approval and complete digitalisation of the immigration facilities are needed. Some things have been done, but much is needed with the progressing society. 

By Siddhant Dutta