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India: Information on whether the Indian government issues documents to Tibetan refugees in India to travel abroad and, if so, what type of documents; information on the issue and renewal procedures outside India and on the rights of Tibetan refugees in India to education and employment and to re-entry after visiting abroad

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 December 1994
Citation / Document Symbol IND19143.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, India: Information on whether the Indian government issues documents to Tibetan refugees in India to travel abroad and, if so, what type of documents; information on the issue and renewal procedures outside India and on the rights of Tibetan refugees in India to education and employment and to re-entry after visiting abroad, 1 December 1994, IND19143.E, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad0f30.html [accessed 16 December 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to a passport official at the High Commission for the Republic of India in Ottawa, the Indian government has not issued documents to Tibetan refugees in India for travel abroad since 1992 (9 Dec. 1994). Before 1992, Tibetan refugees who wished to travel outside India could obtain a temporary passport valid for one month (ibid.). The Indian government no longer offers "travel services" to Tibetan refugees in India (ibid.).

The official stated that currently, in order to return to India, a Tibetan refugee outside India must obtain an emergency certificate from a high commission of India abroad (9 Dec. 1994). Emergency certificates are not travel documents (ibid.). They are issued upon the request of the government where a Tibetan refugee is residing (ibid.). To issue an emergency certificate, the Indian high commission abroad must, among other things, ascertain the refugee's nationality, obtain a clearance regarding the Tibetan refugee's status from the immigration authorities of the country where the refugee resides, obtain a clearance from the Indian government to allow the refugee's entry into the country, and verify the confirmed airline ticket to India (ibid.). An emergency certificate requires three to six months to be issued and is usually valid for two weeks (ibid.).

The same official indicated that Tibetan refugees returning to India do not have the right to work nor the right of access to government services in India (9 Dec. 1994). For further information on this subject, please refer to Response to Information Request IND11239 of 20 July 1992.

According to representatives of the Office of Tibet in New York and of the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, DC, however, the Indian government does issue documents to Tibetan refugees in India for travel abroad (12 Dec. 1994; 9 Dec. 1994).

Representatives of the Office of Tibet and the International Campaign for Tibet both indicated that to travel outside India, Tibetan refugees in India must obtain an identity certificate, known also as the "yellow book" because of its colour (12 Dec. 1994; 9 Dec. 1994). The representative of the International Campaign for Tibet emphasized that the identity certificate is issued to Tibetan refugees in India solely for travel purposes but is not a passport (ibid.).

The representatives of the Office of Tibet and the International Campaign for Tibet stated that to obtain the identity certificate, a Tibetan refugee wishing to travel abroad must submit to the office of the exiled Tibetan government in Dharamsala, among other documents, a letter of invitation from the individual or organization inviting him or her to travel abroad (12 Dec. 1994; 9 Dec. 1994). The representative of the International Campaign for Tibet added that a bank statement of this individual or organization, an affidavit of support from this individual or organization, the green book carrying a stamp of the exiled Tibetan government and documents stating that the applicant was born of a Tibetan mother or father are also required for obtaining an identity certificate (ibid.).

Regarding the green book, the representative of the International Campaign for Tibet stated that this book is issued by the exiled Tibetan government to Tibetan refugees in India and is used as an identity document (9 Dec. 1994).

According to the representatives of Office of Tibet and the International Campaign for Tibet, the procedure for obtaining the an identity certificate is lengthy given that processing a request can take four to six months (9 Dec. 1994). Application forms accompanied by the required documents must be submitted to the office of the exiled Tibetan government in Dharamsala to be processed, then sent to its office in New Delhi which in turn forwards them to the appropriate Indian authorities for approval (ibid.). Requests for the identity certificate are approved by the Indian authorities in most cases (ibid.).

Both representatives indicated that an identity certificate is valid for two years (12 Dec. 1994; 9 Dec. 1994). The representative of the Office for Tibet added that since last year, identity cards can be issued for six years (12 Dec. 1994).

Information provided by representatives of the two organizations on whether a Tibetan refugee travelling outside of India can renew his or her expired travel document is unclear. According to the representative for the International Campaign for Tibet, the holder of an expired document must renew it at the nearest high commission of India before returning to India (ibid.). Renewal procedures can take from two to three months (ibid.). The representative of the Office of Tibet indicated, however, that renewal procedures for identity certificates for Tibetan refugees travelling abroad are more complicated (12 Dec. 1994). To his knowledge, identity certificates issued to Tibetan refugees can only be renewed in India (ibid.). Although unable to comment further on this subject, the representative of the Office of Tibet stated that cases of expired travel documents held by Tibetan refugees are rare (ibid.).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

High Commission for the Republic of India, Ottawa. 9 December 1994. Telephone interview with passport official.

International Campaign for Tibet, Washington, DC. 9 December 1994. Telephone interview with a representative.

Office of Tibet, New York. 12 December 1994. Telephone interview with a representative.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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