Many of you applying for Indian Passport will come across this question “Are you eligible for Non-ECR Category?”. It can be very confusing with ECR and Non-ECR as many of us are not sure what they mean. Also, you may be asked for emigration clearance for employment in certain foreign countries for ECR passport holders. We will look at all these aspects, including how to get that removed that as well, if you are eligible.
Firstly, as you all know a passport is a travel document, issued by a country’s government. It certifies the identity and nationality of a passport holder. You need it to visit any country or to work overseas. In India, there are two types of passports ECR and Non-ECR (formerly called as ECNR).
What does ECR in Indian Passport mean ?
ECR stands for Emigration Check Required. Depending on your status like education, age, marital status, etc. You would be either qualified for ECR or Non-ECR category.
Who all are fall under ECR ( Emigration Check Required) Category for Indian Passport ?
Typically, if you have not passed 10th grade/class ( Matriculation or higher education pass certificate) then your passport will fall under ECR Category.
What is Non-ECR or ECNR in Indian Passport ?
Non-ECR, formerly known as ECNR, means Emigration Check Not Required. In general, if you have passed 10th class/grade (Matriculation or Higher Educational Pass Certificate) or have higher degree then your passport falls under Non-ECR Category. But, there are other exceptions as well, when you fall under Non-ECR category as listed below.
If you fall under one of the below categories, then your passport would be categorized as Non-ECR or ECNR :
- Official and Diplomatic passport holders
- Gazetted Government officers, their spouses and children
- Individuals who are above the age of 50 years
- Children up to the age of 18 years.
- Income taxpayers ( including agricultural income tax payers), their spouses and children under 18 years.
- Professional degree holders such as Engineers, Doctors, CA, etc., their spouses and children.
- Who hold visas for permanent immigration / resident visas for the US, UK, and Australia
- Individuals who have spent three years overseas and their spouses
- Individuals who hold a diploma in nursing under the Indian Nursing Council Act-1947
- People holding diploma in Polytechnic from any recognized institute.
- People who work in Sea with Continuous Discharge Certificate or Sea Cadets and Deck cadets.
Depending on your status listed above, you will need to carry the relevant documentation as listed on Passport Office Non- ECNR page to the passport office for verification during passport application process.
What to select for ECR Question in Indian Passport Application Form ?
You will come across this question : “Are you eligible for Non-ECR Category?”, when you are filling out Indian passport application form. As described above, if you have NOT passed 10th class/grade ( Matriculation or high school pass certificate) and do not satisfy any of the above listed Non-ECR category criteria, then you would need to select NO.
Alternatively, if you have passed 10th grade/class and have qualification above that or if you fall under any of the above listed Non-ECR category criteria, then you would select YES.
How would I know, if my passport is ECR or Non-ECR ?
If your passport falls under ECR category, your passport will have it listed clearly with either a stamp/ notation or full text “EMIGRATION CHECK REQUIRED”. For passport before Jan 2007, it used to be a stamp, for latest passports you will find the text written/endorsement in the address page of the passport.
Usually for passports issued after Jan 2007, if you do not find any endorsement / printed text / notation in the passport that says “EMIGRATION CHECK REQUIRED”, then your passport falls under Non-ECR category. The practice of putting Non-ECR (previously ECNR) stamp has been discontinued and you only see Printed Text notation in passport, see below screenshot.
How does ECR Passport Look like – ECR Endorsement / Notation Sample ?
How does it work for Minors or Children Passport with ECR ?
All children below the age of 18 years are eligible for Non-ECR till he/she attains the age of 18 years. Once they reach 18 years of age, they would need to provide proof like 10th class or higher education certificate during Passport Renewal to have their passport classified as Non-ECR. If they fail to provide that proof, then the passport would get notation or printed text as in above screenshot with “EMIGRATION CHECK REQUIRED”
ECR Passport and Emigration Clearance to work in Certain Countries ?
As per the Emigration Act-1983, Indian Passport holders under ECR category, who wish to travel to below list of countries for employment will have to obtain Emigration Clearance from the office of Protector of Emigrants (POE), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
As per the Indian Bureau of Immigration (BOI), the following countries :
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
As of now, there is a ban on emigration to Iraq.
For ECR designated Countries, as ECR Passport holder, do you need Emigration Clearance even for Tourism and Pleasure ?
You do not need Emigration Clearance for the above listed countries as ECR Passport holder, if you are traveling to above listed countries for purpose other than employment like for tourism, pleasure or visiting friends/relatives. For the purpose of tourism or visiting friends all you have to do is provide a valid passport, valid visa and return ticket at the immigration counters at international airports in India. These guidelines came into effect from Oct 2007.
Can you change ECR to Non-ECR in Indian Passport ?
Yes, you can. If your passport was ECR category and now you qualify to be under Non-ECR category due to changes in your situation either age, education or marital status, etc. then, you can follow the below steps to have it corrected from ECR to Non-ECR
Procedure to Change from ECR to Non-ECR Indian Passport :
You can apply for passport re-issue by selecting YES for question “Are you eligible for Non-ECR Category?” during the passport application process and submit relevant proofs for your eligibility like your 10th or matriculation pass certificate or degree certificate, income tax statements, etc. depending on your eligibility criteria. You can read How to apply for Indian Passport Re-issue Steps
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