No visa extension for Johnny Pierce who shot to fame saying Kerala is safer than America

The Kerala High Court has refused to grant any relief to Johnny Paul Pierce, a 74-year-old US citizen, who had sought extension of his stay in India as he feels safer in Kerala than in America.

The high court said that extension of visa tenure of foreign nationals is the exclusive domain of the Government of India. Justice CS Dias observed that a foreign citizen cannot claim fundamental right to reside and settle in India, adding that the power of the Government of India to expel foreigners is absolute and unlimited.

Pierce’s visa is valid till January 26, 2025, but as per the norms of the visa, he can stay only up to 180 days on a single visit. He arrived in Kerala on February 26, which compels him to leave India before August 26. However, he will be allowed to come back, on a fresh visa.

Pierce had also made a representation to the immigration commissioner and registration officer of foreigners to allow him to extend his stay, after lockdown was imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that he saw business opportunities in Kochi, and sought to convert his tourist visa into a business visa, without following the process of going to the USA and then seeking conversion of the visa.

Since he did not get any positive response from the immigration authorities, he approached the Kerala High Court stating that his visa is valid till 2025, so there should be no impediment to his stay for 180 days.

The court said the petitioner’s love for India was “heartfelt”, but it’s not the court’s jurisdiction to allow the petitioner to stay beyond the granted visa period. However, as far as the state of epidemic and suspension of international flights are concerned the court has directed the FRO to consider the petitioner’s representation within a period of two weeks, strictly in accordance with the applicable guidelines and policies.