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How To Get Off India’s Blacklist

In October 2020, I was added to India’s blacklist and couldn’t return to my wife and family in India until it expired 500 days later.

In this post, I’ll cover exactly what India’s blacklist is and everything I did to try to get removed from it.

The following information is to the best of my knowledge. There is no official information available about the blacklist available.

Karl Rock with wife Manisha Malik Blacklist
My Indian national wife, Manisha Malik, and I in Delhi.

What is India’s blacklist?

According to the Indian Express, the blacklist is:

A list containing the names of Indian citizens and foreigners against whom a “look out circular” (LOC) has been issued.

This list is maintained by the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

It is sent to all Indian diplomatic missions across the world, as well as to immigration checkposts within the country.

At present, there are nearly 30,000 individuals, including foreign nationals, in the blacklist.

Rahul Tripathi, The Indian Express, 26/02/2018.

The blacklist is a secret document, and its existence only became known in the 1990s when Sikhs abroad were being denied entry to India.

Before issuing a visa, an Indian Embassy or High Commission will check the applicant’s name is not on the blacklist, and if it is, they will be denied.

The High Commission will likely then contact the applicant to inform them their visa is denied because of an order from the MHA, i.e. the blacklist. They’re unlikely to give any other specific information and will tell the applicant to contact the MHA.

Likewise, if someone on the blacklist turns up at an Indian airport, their current visa will be voided, and they will not be allowed to enter India.

What is a Look Out Circular?

To get on the blacklist, a Look Out Circular (LOC) must be issued for that person.

LOC is used by investigating agencies and courts to get suspects awaiting trial to surrender.

When the subject of the LOC appears at a border, the border official will see the LOC alert.

Investigators must submit a written request, providing details regarding the individual’s involvement in a crime, to an officer notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The officer should not be below the rank of deputy secretary to the Government of India, joint secretary in a state government, superintendent of police at the district level or in CBI/NIA, zonal director in NCB, deputy commissioner in DRI, assistant director of Intelligence Bureau or bureau of immigration, deputy secretary in R&AW, assistant director of Enforcement Directorate, among others.

LOCs can also be issued on the direction of any criminal court in India.

Rahul Tripathi, The Indian Express, 26/02/2018.

A key point is that the LOC should be issued in relation to a crime. If you haven’t committed a crime, you should challenge the issuance of a LOC.

These requests follow a standard format, which includes at least three identifying factors such as full name, passport number, date and place of birth, and photo if available.

The LOC indicates contact information for the circular’s originator and the action requested by the originator if the subject of the lookout is encountered.

A LOC is valid for 12 months but can be extended.

What is the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)?

The FRRO, or Foreigners Regional Registration Office, is a vital component of the Indian government’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

It oversees foreign nationals’ registration, movement, stay, and departure within the country.

The FRRO is instrumental in managing visa extensions and various immigration-related services, contributing significantly to the regulation and security of foreign nationals within India.

Now, let’s look at how the blacklist is used, the lengths of blacklisting, and how I went about challenging it and getting back to India.

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Do you need more help?

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By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

6 replies on “How To Get Off India’s Blacklist”

Thank you so much Karl about the blacklist comments. Very useful to understand the intricacy of it all.I am myself blacklisted or maybe I was if I could only find out the expiry date.. I will do my best,thanks again. Khalis

Thanks for this Karl, but how were you able to know how long you were blacklisted for? I’m in a similar situation right now

Interesting information Karl. Thanks.
I’m too cheap to read your whole article, but I found ths bit helpful. I’m blacklisted, though I committed no crime. Trying to get it fixed through back channels, let’s call it.

Thanks for sharing this info Carl. I’m also in this list, but hopefully through back channels, it will be removed, always for a price and the right connections.

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