Sunday, 23 July 2017

Overseas citizens cannot volunteer in India on mere “tourist” visa

According to a report in the Times of India (July 22, 2017): “Immigration authorities at Chennai airport deported 19 UK citizens who arrived here on Monday to take part in a charity at a children's home. 

The UK citizens - 16 students and three staff members from Poynton High School in Manchester in the UK -- were told that they could not enter the country using the visa they were holding because they were going to work in an NGO in Chennai. The children landed in Chennai carrying crates of materials to be distributed to children's homes supported by an NGO, India Direct.”

Quoting the concerned NGO (India Direct), the report adds: "They all had valid tourist visas.”

Now, this is a myth and fallacy under which hundreds of NGOs in this county invite and allow overseas citizens, especially foreign students to work as “volunteers” in this country.

All through last year, CAP through its “Compliance Complete Certificate” Program and Volunteer Management Workshops had been cautioning NGOs not to appoint or engage foreigners arriving in India on “tourist visas” as volunteers. 

Reader’s attention is also drawn to our Blog Post of 3rd February 2017 titled: “NGOs Hiring Foreigners Must Exercise Due Diligence”.
Click here to revisit the post:

There is no point some MNC taking this issue up with the government or meeting External Affairs Minister. The question to ask is whether you can visit the U.K. or the USA on a tourist visa and then volunteer with an NGO there? If not, why are we blaming Indian immigration authorities?

The law in India is clear. A person wishing to volunteer at an NGO in India must obtain E-Visa even if he/she desires to come to India for honorary work (without salary) with an NGO registered in India for working on voluntary basis. Such a Visa is granted by the Indian Mission or Post abroad with special endorsement on his/her E-Visa “To Work with NGO — (Name of the NGO and place of work)” subject to usual checks and formalities.

Noshir H. Dadrawala

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