DHARAMSHALA, April 18: In a welcome move bringing relief to thousands of Tibetans living as “foreigners” in India, the Central Government in New Delhi has decided to lengthen the period required for the renewal of the legal residential permits for Tibetans.
The legal document regulating the residential permit of Tibetans in India called “Registration Certificate” will now be extended for five years instead of the earlier one year or six months periods depending on regional stipulations.
“The Central Government in the Indian capital New Delhi has accepted our request to permit us to renew our RCs after every five years,” Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Dharamshala earlier today.
However, the extension period of five years is not applicable to all Tibetans holding RCs. Tibetans born outside India are required to have stayed in India for at least two decades to avail the benefits.
“As of now, according to the new regulations, Tibetans who were born outside India and having lived in India for a minimum of 20 years can only avail the five year extension period benefit,” Dr Sangay added.
Tibetans who are not born in India or have not lived for the required period of 20 years in India will have to follow the existing rules and renew their RCs every year or six months depending on the place of issuance.
RCs are required to obtain work, rent an apartment, open a bank account, and obtain other legal documents such as driving license and Identity Certificates, which are necessary for international travel.
All Tibetans living in India above 16 years of age are required to register for an RC.
The US based Tibet Justice Centre in a report titled Tibet’s Stateless Nationals II: Tibetan Refugee in India, noted that the residence and travel privileges conferred by an RC remain matters of “executive grace” and “not laws in their own right.”
“While RCs did not—and do not—indicate that their bearers enjoy any formal legal status, the Indian government has, to date, allowed Tibetans holding RCs to reside in designated areas of India as a matter of discretion and executive policy,” the report published in 2011 noted.