NRI Marriages


‘NRI marriages’ are those marriages which mostly take place between an Indian woman staying in India and an Indian man living in another country (who is an NRI – Non-resident Indian) either as an Indian native (when he would legally qualify as an ‘NRI’) or as a citizen of that other country (when he would legally be a PIO – Person of Indian Origin). The major aspect of this topic discusses Indian women who get stuck in deceptive marriages with Indians living abroad. There is also ignorance in relation to things that go wrong in an NRI marriage, the woman’s alternative to fairness is prominently constrained and difficult. The serious risk present in an NRI marriage is of the woman being ‘isolated’ in an alien land where she faces language restrictions, problems in relation to communication, and inadequate information regarding the local Criminal justice, Officers and Legal System.

The difficulties are varied and they include problems like dowry and harassment of married women in alien nations, weddings of suitability and lastly the groom hiding his first marriage before tying the knot with an Indian woman. The other issue which requires focus is the absence of social security faced by an Indian woman abroad when their marriage fails. This problem worsens because of the absence of support from her companions and family, and because of financial limitations which makes her completely helpless and aground.
At present there is a dire need to make laws for the well-being of the victims:

  • There should be a simplified process for fast issuance of visas by the Foreign Embassies in India to allow the deserted women to challenge the proceedings filed by her NRI or PIO husband.
  • There is a need to introduce a system of cross checking or consent, whenever an NRI/PIO   Indian wants to withdraw from sponsoring his wife’s visa. Also, such withdrawal should not be allowed as long as the distressed female continues to be in need  as per the Indian law so as to permit her to stay and challenge the allegations abroad without being extradited.
  • The foreign courts should be prohibited for granting an ex-parte divorce in case of
    NRI marriages performed in India as per the marriage laws of India.
  • Cases of domestic dispute should be taken into notice while considering deportation agreements. There should be a simplified process to enable extradition[1]of husbands held guilty and for termination of their passports so that they can be present in civil or criminal trials in Indian courts particularly if he doesn’t respond to the legal processes of courts in India.
  • It is necessary to frame mechanisms that enable speedy tracing of Non-resident Indians or PIOs in case of abandonment. Funds should be provided to agencies that are tracing such individuals.
  • The government should spread awareness about the rights of the victims and should designate nodal officers/departments for dealing with issues of NRI.

A proposal has been provided by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for women who get married to NRIs. They should be provided a second passport, which will be given to the womans’ parents so that they can help their daughter return to India in case her partner keeps her passport with him. One of the main issues in this topic is related to imparting knowledge to women about the Indian missions or embassies that include help desks to help these women. There is also a policy for legal and financial assistance to those Indian women who are deserted by their NRI husband.
Although marriage and its issues are complex areas of law, lack of proper civil laws in our country is complicating the issues even more, as different religions have their own provisions. Inter-religious weddings make it even more complex. Thus, in this situation, legal difficulties improve when an alien nation and its legal system gets involved in a wedding. The failure of overseas marriages is common to all communities whether they are Jats, SCs, Ramgharias and Brahmins. It happens amongst the Hindus and Sikhs religion and even, the Christians.

Reasons for NRI Weddings

One of the main reasons for such marriages is the scorching wish to live in a foreign country. This insane enthusiasm is present in every other regardless of their age, gender or caste. And the road to abroad lies through work, education or wedding. While studies are challenging as it is costly, men usually try to get a job there for their living while most of the ladies choose the last and easiest way to the dreamland by getting married to a person living in a foreign country.

Grounds for such marriages are :

  1. One is in regard to dowry that they get from tying the knot with an Indian woman. In today’s society, the parents of daughters are ready to give enormous dowry so that their girls can marry someone who is well-settled in a foreign country but this dimness is misused by men residing abroad, some even marry with an intention to get an unpaid servant for their families or sometimes take these girls abroad to make them work as maidservants for their wives and children.
  2. Also, this type of wedding will give a great chance for women to stay in a foreign country which that woman desired above everything else. She has a mind-set that her life would be dazzling and with lots of money she would have a higher standard of living if she gets married to an NRI, also, this marriage can be a way for her family members to go to a foreign country. Men who are residing in India prefer these girls because half of them are unemployed. These types of weddings suffer threats like any other relationship would do. The extra risk factor is that the groom lives in a foreign country and to compound it, at times, his family also stays with him.

Reasons for failure of Such Marriages

  1. In some cases, no one makes an effort to make the marriage successful but stays in it because of the concealed motive. Thus, a man who married for dowry will break this marriage after getting the same because he doesn’t see any profit in continuing this marriage. Whereas, a woman tries to save her relationship at any cost so that she can go abroad.
  2. Then comes the period of waiting to get permanent nationality in abroad is very lengthy in some situations only those people who tied the knot to a resident of that country will get citizenship of that country. The situation is even more difficult in the case of those who go abroad without a proper visa.
  3. The difficulty of adjustment a girl faces in her relationship is more serious. Because she has to adjust with another family and without the support of her husband mainly during the initial period. The time period for which the couple stays together is for a very short time and is not enough for building a bond between them and this can create misunderstandings between husband and wife.
  4. At times, the parents or siblings on either side don’t want the wedding to last and the reasons can be personal or it could be the benefit that can be asked on their separation. Now, women are becoming aware and claim more liberty and self- respect at this time and the men though, are residing overseas, do not have a broad outlook.

The SC in the matter of Neerja Saraph v. Jayant V. Saraph[2] gave a decision that has highlighted the requirement to consider laws preserving the interests of women and has suggested the following specific provisions:

1. Firstly it said that if two people, NRI and an Indian girl have tied the knot in India then their wedding cannot be declared as void by a Court in abroad and secondly, maintenance should be given to the women from the share of the husband’s property, both in India as well as a foreign country in case of separation.

2. The Hon’ble Supreme Court said that the verdict given by Courts in India should be executed in Courts abroad both on the principle of kindness by entering into mutual settlements and informing them under sec. 44A[3]of CPC and that makes a foreign verdict by foreign Court as viable as it would be a decree given by that Court.

Bill on Registration of Marriage of an NRI.

This Bill is a result of a combined inventiveness of the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Department of Home Affairs and Department of Law and Justice.
The main purpose of this Bill is to generate more responsibility and provide more security against the abuse of Indian women by their Non-Resident Indian husband. It envisions
(i) Registration of Marriages by NRI
(ii) Amendment of the Passports Act 1967 and lastly,
(iii) Amendment to the Cr.P.C 1973.

As stated in the provisions[4] of this Bill, it is mandatory to register marriages within 30 days of a wedding in our country or in a foreign country so as to give an enhanced implementation of rights to abandoned wives under numerous family laws. In the same way, the alteration of the Passport Act would authorise the Passport Authority to seize or cancel the passports of Non-resident Indians, if the Passport Authority gets to know that the Non-Resident Indian has not registered his wedding within 30 days from the date of marriage.
There are some alterations to CrPC, 1973 that would authorize the Courts to issue an order, warrants through the specially selected website of the Ministry of External Affairs. And, it also provides laws for attachment of possessions belonging to the NRI, if he doesn’t present before the Judge and will be declared as a criminal by the Court of law.
The presentation of this proposal was needed by the Department of External Affairs because of many objections that were raised by residents of our country and most of them were women who were abandoned/facing harassment by their NRI husbands.

The proposal offers security to Indian girls who have tied the knot with Non-Residents Indians in a broad sense as well as a serious warning to those men who harass their wives. This Bill offers considerable aid to all Indian females who have tied the knot with Non-Residents Indians all over the world.


There is a need to know that failure of NRI marriages could be because of various reasons, and sometimes husbands, as well as wives both, can be liable for such let-downs. The pardoning of all females from guilt is unfair. The concept that every woman is deserted because of harassment or dowry demands is too simple-minded. Sometimes individuals get married only for some practical reasons, and call that ‘matrimonial of convenience’ or ‘fake marriages.’ Foreign nationals of India cannot be considered as a complete citizen of India. If a person acquires the citizenship of any other nation through a resident of India then he will not be considered as a national of India. India publicized the intention of the government to provide dual nationality to PIOs residing in any country (excluding Pakistan & Bangladesh).

Legal support is provided to this since the Parliament has accepted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005. This modified Act permits the Central Government to register as Overseas Citizen of India. Our Administration in the last few years is doing its work enthusiastically with a view to resolve the issues included in overseas matrimonies and drafted a bill that mandates the registration of weddings.
Our Government must think about passing a broad guideline/legislation to ensure that all protection is given by-law to Indian women, regarding wedding, separation, their maintenance, inheritance as well as custody of children, etc. The precautions that the government is taking are actually necessary yet there is a dire need to approach cooperation in a more active way between the ministries at the state level as well as among the countries at international level.

At present, there is no uncertainty in the fact that women in India are hurting in silence. Their societal, financial, and personal rights to live their life with self-respect and harmony are getting destroyed without any regret. The girls who are suffering need our attention so that we ensure they are safe and comfortable.

Marriage, to women as to men, must be a luxury, not a necessity; an incident of life, not all of it.”

Susan B. Anthony


  1. Bill introduced on NRI marriages in Parliament, available at: (visited on 4 June 2020). (n.d.).
  2. NRI MARRIAGES – Issues and Challenges with special reference to the custody of children, available at: (visited on 4 July 2020). (n.d.).
  3. NRI marriages, available at: (visited on 6 June 2020). (n.d.).
  4. Problems relating to NRI Marriage, available at (visited on 2 June 2020). (n.d.).
  5. Suggestions, available at (visited on 5 June 2020). (n.d.).


1. What are the problems faced by a Indian woman in an NRI marriage?

2. What is the objective of the Bill that was introduced by the Ministry of External Affairs?

3. How can we help the women who are getting exploited because of these marriages?

4. What are the reasons for separation in such marriages?

5. Why are the parents marrying their daughters to NRIs even after knowing that they are  already married and are not even sure about the desertion of the first wife?


[2]Neerja Saraph v. Jayant V.Saraph (1994) SCC (6) 461, JT 1994 (6) 488 3



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