Keeping his promise made to a foreign student at Symbiosis, Simon Kiir Kuany, who had complained to him about delays in registration of foreign students, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh issued a “most immediate” circular to all Foreigner Registration Offices (FROs) and Foreigner Regional Registration Offices across the country to ensure delays are curtailed and such complaints are not received henceforth.
Though the circular was issued within a week of his visit to the Symbiosis campus earlier this month, it was received by the institute only Tuesday, after which Singh himself called up the foreign student and asked him if he was satisfied with the response.
On September 5, Singh was attending an event at Symbiosis campus in Lavale. During a Q&A session, Kuany, who hails from South Sudan, told him that foreign students faced a lot of problems with the Foreigner Registration Office, with which foreign students have to register themselves upon their arrival in India. “It takes something between four to five weeks for the registration process and every time we go there, we are told they have a new system. Why so many system changes leading to delays?” he had asked.
Singh had assured him that he would personally look into the matter. “Within a month, I assure this problem will be resolved,” the minister had said.
On September 11, a new circular was signed and issued by B V R Murthy, under secretary (foreigners) at the home ministry containing instructions relating to registration of foreign students.Its copies were also sent to all joint directors of Immigration and marked to all state governments/UT administrations, and FRROs in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Amritsar, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Goa, Lucknow and Ahmedabad.
The circular stated that the ministry had recently received complaints from foreign students about delays and problems faced in registration with FROs in various cities despite the fact that the online registration process had been started at 13 FROs and 525 FRROs across the country to tide over such problems.
The circular stated that for all foreign nationals, rules specified 14 days as maximum time limit for registrations and 24 hours in case of Pakistani nationals. It also stated that FROs were earlier told that if an application was complete, due security done and no adverse report received, the registration should be done within a day.
Meanwhile, Symbiosis director Vidya Yeravdekar said the mood at the campus was jubilant. “I was in touch with the ministry after Simon’s complaint and I am thankful for this prompt action. Foreign students do face a lot of problems. Usually, it takes over one-and-a-half months to get registrations done and since they are technically not legal till they are registered, no one is willing to let out flats to them on rent. At some institutes, admissions can get cancelled after 14 days if registration is not done. Hence, I am very happy that the minister took notice of the complaint put forward by our foreign student.”
Kuany told The Indian Express that he was very happy about the response of the minister and that he had been getting congratulatory messages from other foreign students too.
What’s particularly heartening for Kuany is that he got to speak directly to Singh after the circular was issued. “Our director was in touch with him and she called me to the office and said the circular was passed. I first read it and was so pleased to read the ‘Most Immediate’ at its head. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting this response. It’s not something you expect politicians to do. So I was mighty impressed at how politicians in India take student affairs so seriously. He had told me he would do it in a month and not even 15 days had passed and he kept his word. It’s not in many countries that you can see this,” he said.
Kuany said the home minister had asked to speak to him. “I told him ‘Thank you’ for the swift action and that I was not expecting it. He told me I was welcome and he would ensure the circular was implemented and stay of foreign students was comfortable in India.”
Kuany said his complaint to Singh was a planned move. “Many ministers have come to Symbiosis earlier and I didn’t say anything. But I knew that if anyone can make a difference, he was the man since he headed the foreign nationals bureau. Most of the times, people don’t care about the problems of foreign students. It’s like we are invisible. Our problems fall on deaf ears except for Symbiosis where we always felt welcome. Outside, it wasn’t so good. But it feels great that someone is listening and acting on it too,” he said.