The Non-ECR Category: A Guide

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on November 15, 2022
At a Glance: A Non-ECR is a category of Indian passports. Formerly known as ECNR, this passport category is indicated that no emigration check is required for you to work in certain countries.

Have you ever had to do an emigration check while your friends travel abroad without it? Have you ever stood at the emigration counter and wondered why some people don’t have to stand in line?

Having a Non-ECR passport has many advantages, including not having to have an emigration check done before traveling and bypassing the emigration counter at the airport.

So how can you get a Non-ECR category passport? Here we take a look at the eligibility requirements for a NON-ECR passport and how you can get yours!

ECR Explained

In India, there are two types of passports: the ECR category and the Non-ECR category. When you are applying for a passport, you will either fall into the ECR or Non-ECR category.

ECR stands for Emigration Check Required. An Emigration Check is a verification process. If you have an ECR category passport, you will have to go through an emigration check if you plan to travel to certain countries for work. This generally applies to jobs for unskilled workers.

If you have a Non-ECR category passport, you will not need to undergo the Emigration Check. 

ECR vs Non-ERC

What is ECR?

ECR is a category of Indian passports. If you have not passed 10th grade/class, or cannot produce your Matriculation or higher education pass certificate, then your passport will fall under the ECR Category. 

This means if you want to travel to certain countries to work there, you will first have to go through an emigration check. The Emigration Check is a verification process to make sure you have a secure and safe job in your new country of residence.

What is Non-ECR?

Non-ECR is a category of Indian passports. Formerly known as ECNR, this passport category indicated that no emigration check is required for you to work in certain countries. If you have passed 10th grade or have a higher education degree, then your passport will fall under the Non-ECR Category. 

This passport is for Indian citizens who are educationally qualified and wanting to travel for any business or travel purposes.  Non-ECR passport holders can travel anywhere in the world without needing to clear emigration at the counter.

If you think you qualify for a Non-ECR passport, you will need to carry the relevant documentation to the passport office for verification during the passport application process.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between having ECR vs Non-ECR on your Indian passport is your ability to travel and work in certain countries. If your passport has the ECR notation or stamp, then you need to get “Emigration Clearance” from the office of the Protector of Emigrants (POE), if you plan to work in certain countries.

The list of countries that require Emigration Clearance for ECR passport holders includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Indonesia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.

The Emigration Clearance for ECR passport holders is to safeguard unskilled workers from being exploited when they work outside of India in unskilled jobs. The Emigration Clearance process makes sure you go through a certified agent and are protected from fraud and exploitation.

ECR & Non-ECR Eligibility

If you have the educational qualification certificates needed, you will be eligible to get the Non-ECR passport by default. You can still opt for an ECR passport if you feel that you would benefit from Emigration Clearance or are not traveling for work.

You are eligible for the Non-ECR category passport if:

  • Your education qualification is above 10th grade and you have all the necessary documents
  • You are 50 years of age and above
  • You hold a Diploma in Polytechnic from any recognized institute
  • You hold a Diploma in Nursing under the Indian Nursing Council Act-1947
  • You have spent three years overseas
  • You are a Gazetted Government Officer
  • You are the spouse or child of a Gazetted Government Officer
  • You hold visas for permanent immigration/resident visas for the US, the UK, and Australia
  • You are an Official and Diplomatic passport holder
  • You are an income taxpayer (including agricultural income taxpayers)
  • You are the spouse or child of an income taxpayer (including agricultural income taxpayers), or
  • You work in Sea with a Continuous Discharge Certificate or Sea Cadets and Deck cadets.

When you are filling out your passport application form, you will come across the question: “Are you eligible for a Non-ECR category passport?”.

If you have NOT passed the 10th class/grade 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 or if you fall under any of the above listed Non-ECR category criteria, then you would select YES.

All children below the age of 18 years are eligible for a Non-ECR category passport. Once they reach 18 years of age, they would need to provide proof during Passport Renewal to have their passport classified as Non-ECR

Can you convert your ECR passport into Non-ECR?

Yes, you can convert your ECR passport into a Non-ECR passport.

If anything in your life has changed that qualifies you for a Non-ECR category, you can apply for the deletion of ECR status. For example, your age, education, or marital status can change in such a way that you are now eligible for the Non-ECR passport.

How do you convert your ECR passport into ECNR?

If you are eligible for the Non-ECR category but have an ECR passport currently, it’s easy for you to convert it into a Non-ECR passport. 

To convert your ECR passport to a Non-ECR passport, simply follow these steps:

  • Apply for a passport re-issue to change your status from ECR to Non-ECR.
  • When you are applying for the reissue, you should select “YES” for the question “Are you eligible for Non-ECR Category?”
  • When you go to the Passport office or upload proof during the process, you need to submit all the relevant proof for your eligibility like your 10th or matriculation pass certificate or degree certificate, income tax statements, etc. depending on your eligibility criteria.

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