Visa issue update

Mar 22, 2022 | Visa threats

In a recent article in the Print the Secretary was quoted:

“Nobody’s visas have been withheld but, yes, it all depends on the way they abide by what is expected of them legally, ethically, morally, spiritually of this project. We have evidence of people involved in illegal activities, obstruction of the intended city and it is entirely for authorities to take a call on it”.

Contrary to her statement, the threat to Auroville residents who rely on Entry Visas is increasing. It appears that the Secretary is using changes in the usual 5-year visa status as a punishment for those who voice disagreement with the TDC. It also appears that if an Aurovilian’s “moral and spiritual” expectations do not meet her unspecified standards, that she sees withholding visas to foreign residents as a legitimate course of action. She makes claims that the Foundation has evidence that people are involved in illegal activities, however, there appears to be no investigation into these nebulous allegations and no evidence has been shared with the community.

To date, several Aurovilians, some long-term residents or here since birth, have only received a three-month extension recommendation letter. The visa extensions have not been issued as there is no current process to give such a short extension and the RRO in Pondy does not know how to process the requests. The RRO has passed on the query to the Chennai FRRO and is awaiting a response. In the meantime, some Aurovilians waiting for a visa extension have instead been told that they can be only given an Exit Visa.

For some of the Aurovilians who received shortened visa recommendation letters, the Secretary of the AV Foundation has implied that it was due to their participation in the protests within Auroville, which is considered as not abiding by the laws of the GOI. For others who were not actively involved in the protests, the Secretary has hinted that it was not due to their own actions but due to their connections to others in the community who were not in allegiance with the Auroville Foundation Office plans.

Several Aurovilians, including families with young children, are now faced with imminent uncertainty regarding their residence. Omid, a teacher in one of Auroville’s schools and an active and valuable member of the community who has been an Aurovilian since 2019 (living in Auroville since 2016), requested an extension for his one year visa in November 2021. After signing the declaration form, he was given a three month visa recommendation letter on February 10th, with the extension expiring on April 17th. Since the visa was officially issued on January 18th, Omid could not stay longer than only 2 months without technically overstaying his visa, and receiving a black mark on his visa record. As with the other 3-month recommendation letters, it was not processed by the RRO due to the unprecedented nature of the short visa. He is now faced with extreme uncertainty and he is leaving Auroville without knowing if he will be able to return to his home here. He has had no further clarification on the matter from the AVFoundation Office despite the WC and his place of work sending letters of appeal on his behalf.