What is it and why is it needed?
ECR stands for (Emigration Check Required). If an Indian passport has the ECR stamp on it, it means that the passport holder has to have the ECR clearance before travelling abroad. The clearance which is known as “emigration clearance “ allows the passport holder to travel to a certain country and it can be obtained from the Protector of Emigrants (POE), a department under the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs).
Which countries need ECR clearance?
Having an ECR stamp in your passport means that your travelling to certain countries are restricted and unless you have permission in the form of clearance, you cannot travel. An ECR clearance is not always needed but you will need it if you are going to work in certain countries. There are currently 18 countries where ECR passport holders need to obtain “Emigration Clearance” from the ministry. These countries include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Brunei, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, and Thailand. Iraq is also restricted in terms of ECR.
Why a passport is stamped with ECR?
The main reason that an Indian passport is stamped with an ECR is due to the passport holder’s academic qualification. An ECR means that the person either does not have any academic qualification or has very little. An ECR stamp is to make sure that such persons are not being taken abroad illegally, or as such, that might expose them to economic or physical exploitation.
Is the ECR clearance required for other countries too?
Since the majority of 18 restricted countries are the destinations for a vast number of Indians who go there to work, the ECR clearance is only needed for these countries. If an Indian passport holder is going to any other country for any other purpose such as travel then clearance is not required. This requirement has been removed by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (Emigration Policy Division) since October 2007 if the traveller has a valid passport, visa for the destination country and a return ticket.