India may scrap ‘Exit Permit’, bringing some relief for Tibetans

The Identity Certificate, popularly known as the Yellow Book, issued to exile Tibetans by the Government of India in place of a passport.

The Identity Certificate, popularly known as the Yellow Book, issued to exile Tibetans by the Government of India in place of a passport. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

Tibet Sun Newsroom

McLEOD GANJ, India, 23 October 2017

Tibetans in India may finally get some relief in their travels abroad, as the Government of India may scrap the troublesome “Exit Permit”.

An “Exit Permit” is one of the approvals Tibetans have to seek when they travel abroad. They have to get it from the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO, the local police generally), which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India.

This permit is said to be required if a Tibetan is leaving India for more than 15 days, but this obscure rule is not available to confirm, and even the officials decide randomly at their own discretion.

A news report quoted a senior government official as saying that the Government of India wants to do away with the “redundant” procedure.

“The present rules are such that a Tibetan refugee has to apply for an exit permit every time he or she has to travel abroad. Since identity certificates are issued after carrying out due diligence and background check, the exit permit is an unnecessary requirement,” said the official.

The official also said that the Home Ministry would soon get approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). This will be followed by the Ministry of External Affairs informing all foreign missions of the discarding of the exit permit.

It is not clear if the “Return Visa” will also be scrapped.

Tibetans need a “Return Visa” to be able to come back to India. This visa could be sought from Indian missions abroad, but due to lack of rules or an uninformed staff, it often becomes a difficult issue.

Return visa is required for some embassies, such as European ones, to seek a visa. In such a case, Tibetans have to follow the same procedure as that of processing the “Exit Permit” from the FRO. Again there are no clear rules for this, and often takes days following up to process. This much-abhorred procedure takes months for Tibetans living in South India.

Tibetans are issued a travel document called an “Identity Certificate”, popularly known as the “Yellow Book” due to the colour of the cover of the booklet. It usually takes at least a year to process.

Since early this year, Tibetans have started applying for Indian passport, due to the hassles associated with the Yellow Book. They turned to this after the Delhi High Court ruled that Tibetans born in India between 1950 and 1987 are citizens of India by birth, citing Article 3(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act of India 1955.

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