Where is the FRRO?
FRROs are located in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Dehradun, Goa, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Thiruvananthapuram. If you live outside of one of these areas, you can register with the nearest Superintendent of Police (SP) or Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), but it is advisable to travel to the nearest FRRO.
Most FRROs take applications from 9:30 – 1pm. After 1, they do not accept new applications, but remain open for those already in line.
Why should I go to the FRRO?
1.) Registers your presence, issues a residence permit (RP), and registers any change of address
2.) Extends or converts certain kinds of visas
3.) Grants exit visas
Exit visas are for people who came into India without a visa (like a child born or adopted here), people who have overstayed their visa, or people who are in the extension process (usually just a simple paper slip in this last case).
Why do I need a residence permit (RP)?
The residence permit is a very important document that proves you are legally allowed to reside in India. It is used for getting your shipment from customs, setting up a bank account, getting a PAN card, getting a driving license, setting up an internet connection, and most importantly, leaving the country.
Your registration permit is specific to a certain location that should be in the same vicinity as your work. For example, even if your company has a registered office in Mumbai, you should not register in Mumbai if all of your work is going to be at their Bangalore office.
You are required to inform the FRRO if you will be away from your residence for more than 8 weeks, or if you officially change your residence. The residence permit is extended along with your visa. When you don’t need the RP anymore (leaving India for the last time), give it to the Immigration Officer at the airport.
If you do not yet know where you will reside within the first 14 days, register using your hotel/guest house address. Once you have found a place to live, go back to the FRRO and complete a change of address.
Can’t I just get an agent to do all this for me?
Agents are not allowed inside the FRRO, so you must do it yourself. If you rely on agents for everything else, consider this a badge of honor for braving the Indian bureaucracy. There is an exception for medical patients.
How many times do I have to register?
You only have to register once per visa. If you need to extend a visa, you will need to go back to the FRRO to renew it.
What should I expect when I go?
(Every office is different, but most follow something like this:)
First, go online to fill out the application form and set an appointment.
When you arrive, you will wait in line to see the Scrutiny Officer. This is like the triage line. The Scrutiny Officer takes a printed checklist of all the documents you need and gives an initial screening of your documents.
If he/she thinks you have everything in place, you are sent to the Duty Officer who gives you a token to see an actual agent at the counter. If the Scrutiny Officer thinks you are missing documents, he will give you the required checklist and send you back home. If it is for a small form you can get quickly, you may try to plead with the Duty Officer to still give you a token, but he is not obligated to do so.
Your token will tell you what place in line you are and which window you should go to. While you wait, make sure your documentation appears in the exact same order as the checklist the Scrutiny Officer gave you. Just because the Scrutiny Officer allows you to get a token does not mean that your request will automatically be approved. That is up to the agent (and subsequent superiors) you meet with later.
The wait for the FRRO Officer can be very long. It is ok to leave and come back, but do not be late. Once your token is called, the agent at the window will examine all of your documents in detail. Their job is to find any mistakes or missing documents. If they find something, they will let you know and tell you to fix it and come back. If everything is in order, they will process your request.
Processing can be done on the same day for easy requests like change of address. It can take weeks in the case of extending a visa. If you or your spouse is Chinese it will take extra time as these requests must be processed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Delhi.