Employment visa for volunteer work

#1 Sep 15th, 2011, 14:08
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  • Pomegranite is offline
#1
Hey y'all,
I'm sure sorry if this question has been asked before; I searched but did not find.
I'm interested in volunteering in India, and hold a US passport.
I am supposed to get an employment visa to do this.
Is this really necessary?
Does anyone check?
Is this just bureaucratic posturing?
Thanks so much for your patience!
Pomz
#2 Sep 18th, 2011, 03:45
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#2
There are lots of similar threads about this--you can see them at the side and below.

To volunteer legally in India, you do need an employment visa. If you don't have one, it's seriously illegal, and could get you seriously deported. Or it might go without incident. It's a risk, and if it's a risk you're not willing to take you shouldn't take it.

Have you been recruited by an NGO for volunteering? If you know who you're working with, they'll have advice. I'd guess that the level of checking varies from area to area, locality to locality, situation to situation. So if the NGO tells you, "The authorities here will look the other way, just get a tourist visa," then it's up to you whether to trust their word.
#3 Sep 18th, 2011, 05:01
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#3
You will need a letter from the sponsoring NGO. There is no salary requirement, unlike a true employment visa. You may want to look at www.india.travisa.com for complete details.
#4 Sep 18th, 2011, 07:18
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#4

Officially, yes...

But no one has reported being deported(?)
Has anyone even gotten hassled? Fined? Jailed?!
It doesn't look like anyone has actually had a problem.
Obviously, it's on my own head any all, but it seems a bureaucratic hoop without any substance, maybe?
And yes, I did see the threads...after I posted. Sorry!
Pomz
#5 Sep 18th, 2011, 07:46
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Pomegranite, it sounds like you've decided what you want to believe, that it's bureaucratic and not likely to be enforced. Maybe in some cases it is. I wouldn't risk it. People do check your passport and visa everywhere you go in India. Tourists have been deported in the past for violating the terms of their tourist visa. If you are deported, it's most likely you'll never go back to India. Most of us won't risk that, so you'll find few people on IM who can report what happens when you violate your visa's terms.

If you've made up your mind, you're going to do what you're going to do. If you do get deported, though, don't say, "But the people on indiamike.com said I wouldn't have any troubles!"
#6 Sep 18th, 2011, 07:49
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<cross-posted with Thirdreel just now. See also http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in/ and http://www.mha.nic.in/ on these issues, with the latter notably their http://mha.nic.in/ForeigDiv/ForeigHome.html.>

It's a pretty new requirement. I've never seen any definitive reports on it, yet.

But my only reasonable advice to give, and I guess for anyone to give here, would be to stick by the current rules for it, yes. If you're looking for someone to tell you that's not necessary, you no doubt will find them. But then it will be up to you to judge what that's worth, eh.

If you're planning on counting yourself lucky, then who are we to stop you. It's just not my way of getting around the world, and I can't nor would I advise it.

I guess for a few-days volunteer stint as many seem to do (and you might now ask yourself what good does that do) it wouldn't have to be much of an issue.* But I certainly can't guarantee that, and you make it sound like you're looking at something more substantial. I wouldn't personally seek to mess around with it.

* And note even that just wouldn't be a problem in the past. I really can't tell you what it would be like now. I just can't advise you to count on it.

Quote:
But no one has reported being deported(?)
Has anyone even gotten hassled? Fined? Jailed?!
Yes, this and worse does get reported messing around with the rules in other ways. It's not some paranoid mumbo-jumbo we just happen to like to worry you with. Try getting into or staying in your country on the wrong or entirely faulty grounds.

Hey, it isn't us wanting to go there, is it. It's you. So now who are you gonna believe -- some total web strangers, or the Indian authorities who you'll have to deal with and in fact will have the final say on it.
#7 Sep 18th, 2011, 16:22
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pomegranite View Post But no one has reported being deported(?)
Has anyone even gotten hassled? Fined? Jailed?!
It doesn't look like anyone has actually had a problem.
The 'unfortunate' ones unfortunately never come back to tell their story, so the fact that there are not many or no reports doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Quote:
Obviously, it's on my own head any all, but it seems a bureaucratic hoop without any substance, maybe?
If you are convinced that the visa requirements of a country are just 'a bureaucratic hoop' anyway, then why are you asking? It seems that you want to be assured that violating visa requirements won't lead to any problems. DO go for it if you have to, and DO come back to tell us what happened.
#8 Sep 23rd, 2011, 13:13
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#8
Settle down people!
I have not decided anything yet, actually.
But I read the other threads and there seemed to be a lot of "it's unclear as of yet" kind of posts.
Of the three organizations I contacted for a volunteer letter, which I need for the visa, only one got back to me and they didn't seem too concerned.
So...maybe yes, maybe no.
I'm still trying to work it out.
Remain calm, I have broken no laws as of yet!
Pomz
#9 Sep 23rd, 2011, 14:23
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#9
What I can tell you is "clear" is that from all I see, the Indian authorities are serious about the way they're clamping down on all sorts of visa issues, for various categories.

So I wouldn't suggest flouting any stipulations they come out with on it. Granted, those stipulations themselves may change all the time, which doesn't exactly help to get a clear picture of it; that's still no reason to ignore them. What people reported yesterday was a "maybe" may not be so today, or tomorrow. It would in any case be unwise to want to believe just what you want to see. (And, bear in mind any NGO or similar you contact on the ground may not be all that up-to-speed with it, either. Did we say already they're fairly new requirements?

Besides, tell me about communication problems there, even minus such issues. I've stood on the verge of going to volunteer there, So my not speaking the local language is no problem, yes, no? No, no, sir, just come over, welcome please. Then I think I'll drop some more e-mails just for good measure, and of course it turns out that yes, of course, speaking the local language would be very much required. Right, that's kind of what I'd figured.

You really need to learn how to decipher any answers you get there. And check, check, check, then double- and triple-check again.)

http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/FAQ-TVisa170510.pdf (That's the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, if it needs saying):

Quote:
Q.12: How will individuals who come to India to volunteer for
various charity organizations be treated? Many of them
travel around the region while volunteering in India for
extended periods on tourist visas.

Ans.: Foreign nationals who come to India for voluntary work in
NGOs registered in India may be granted Employment Visa
with special endorsement on his/her E visa “TO WORK
WITH NGO – (Name of the NGO and place of duty).” Such
foreign nationals shall not be issued tourist visa.

Q.13. What activities are permissible on ‘Tourist’ visa?

Ans.: Tourist Visa is granted for visiting India for recreation, sight
seeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives etc. No
other activity is permissible on a Tourist Visa.
(And do note the way they even phrase that first "frequently asked question" btw: It is clearly addressed at those who tend to innocently go "Oh, but I'm doing nothing wrong, am I?" So it stands to reason they came up with that requirement because it came to be seen as an issue to the Indian authorities, and so in response to it. Then for good measure, and of course also with a view to people thinking of engaging in other activities* -- and read that whole document** --, in the follow-up question, they go to the length even of reiterating that a tourist visa is for, well, tourism.)

* Note just the enlightening introductory:

Quote:
2. It has come to the notice of the Government that there has been
abuse/misuse of the Tourist Visa. With a view to curb the abuse/misuse
of the Tourist Visa, instructions have been issued by the Government
imposing the following restrictions:-
** I have a feeling while this is one of the best, and of course directly official, standing documents on Indian tourist visa issues, it may in fact not be entirely up-to-speed in some details btw (and it is of course currently dated June 2010), but anyway I don't think it matters regarding this subject.
Last edited by machadinha; Sep 23rd, 2011 at 15:24..
#10 Sep 23rd, 2011, 15:11
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post ** I have a feeling while this is one of the best, and of course directly official, standing documents on Indian tourist visa issues, it may in fact not be entirely up-to-speed in some details btw (and it is of course currently dated June 2010), but anyway I don't think it matters regarding this subject.
For the sake of completeness btw, this 2010 document has been doing the rounds here quite a bit. The MHA's Foreigners Division FAQ's section however currently holds this March 2011 .pdf version of it: http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/FAQ-TVisa280710.pdf.

The essential message at least on this subject (and, at a very swift glance, on all else), remains the same:

Quote:
Q.12: How will individuals who come to India to volunteer for various charity organizations be treated? Many of them travel around the region while volunteering in India for extended periods on tourist visas.

Ans.: Tourist Visa is not the appropriate visa in such cases. A person coming for voluntary work can apply for ‘Employment (E)’ Visa.

Q.13. What activities are permissible on ‘Tourist’ visa?

Ans.: Tourist Visa is granted for visiting India for recreation, sight seeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives etc. No other activity is permissible on a Tourist Visa.
#11 Jan 10th, 2013, 21:56
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#11
Hi Pomegranite,
I am curious what you ended up doing with the employment vs. tourist visa? I am in a similar situation and am having trouble deciding. I would like to chat with you to find out what you did and what visas other volunteers had that you maybe met along the way. I understand that I need the employment visa to volunteer, but the volunteering is a just a fraction of my trip (2 of the 6 months).

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