Chennai immigration officials have not allowed a team of 19 UK citizens (16 students & 3 children) entry in the country. The group was part of a programme under which UK children support underprivileged children, through monetary and ‘in kind’ donations and also interacting with children through painting murals & other constructive work for about a day. Their other part of activities included sight-seeing in the city and nearby villages.
However immigration authorities decided that this was working in the NGO and their tourist visa, which the group was holding, did not allow the same. They deported the entire group.
Infact this has implications for a number of NGOs, whose programmes often include visits / internship / exchange programmes by foreigners in their field areas.
India basically has issues tourist visa, business visa & Employment visa. A person who comes to India to work for an NGO needs to apply for an Employment Visa, even if it is on honorary basis.
In the present case, where idea was for UK school children to interact with children at a children’s Home, it seems to be a case of overkill, but is a lesson for all NGOs to be careful when inviting foreigners at their offices / workplace.
Socio Research & Reform Foundation (NGO)
512 A, Deepshikha, 8 Rajendra Place,
New Delhi – 110008