Joining Auroville and Newcomership
Over the years criteria for joining Auroville have undergone many changes, but the underlying idea has not drifted too far from the fundamentals. The idea is to identify the people who are really interested and committed to the vision and work of Auroville.
“Greetings from Auroville to all men of goodwill. Are invited to Auroville all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and truer life.”
(The Mother, 28.2.68)
All those who are thinking of coming to live in Auroville are required to make a preliminary visit before making any final commitment. If they decide to join, they should make themselves known to the Entry Service before returning to their home country, and obtain from it a letter of recommendation. This is an essential document, required for all non-Indians applying for an Entry Visa to join the community. It will only be issued to persons who are known to Auroville.
Coming to Auroville from abroad
An Entry Visa for Auroville can be obtained through Indian Embassies / Missions abroad with the letter of recommendation issued by the Auroville Foundation through the Entry Service in Auroville. Under “type of visa” an X or the word Entry is marked. This visa allows a non-Indian to reside in Auroville with the possibility of extending the duration of stay. Meanwhile it should be noted that the date from which the visa is valid may vary from country to country. Normally it begins from the date of issue, but people should clarify this point when applying for such a visa.
As soon as possible after arrival, people should go to the Auroville Residents Service. They will prepare the necessary documents for registration with the Regional Registration Office (RRO), where the person will be registered to reside in India. This registration has to be done within 14 days of arrival in India. Anyone not managing to register in that time will be asked to pay a penalty by the RRO.
On arrival in Auroville
Should fill in an Arrival Report at the Residents Service office within 48 hours of arrival in Auroville, and contact the Entry Service at this time also. The process of extending your Entry Visa can then be started immediately, as this can sometimes be a long and complex process. The Government will normally grant an extension of the Entry Visa and give you a Residential Permit, provided that you’re living and working in Auroville as an Honorary Voluntary Worker. (Please note: a Tourist Visa cannot be converted into an Entry Visa.)
If you are an Indian citizen, register with the Entry Service at their office in the Multimedia Centre within one week of your arrival. Only when you have done so can the process of joining Auroville begin.
The Newcomer process
As quickly as possible after settling in you should begin the process of integration, which means taking up residence in one of the Auroville settlements, finding work, and getting fully involved in the Auroville experience. The Entry Service will invite you for an interview as soon as possible after you have got yourself settled, and you will begin a 3-month Guest Period. At the end of the 3 months you will have another interview with the Entry Service, and if there are no doubts either way you will be made a “Newcomer”. The Newcomer period normally lasts for 1 to 2 years, but may be extended if necessary. A member of the community may be designated as a contact person for you during the Newcomer period, to help you connect with the different activities with which you may want to get involved.
Newcomers should make every effort to remain in Auroville for at least one year, and ideally for two years. If you are planning to arrive between December and March, it is wise to book accommodation in a guest house well in advance, as Auroville is full of visitors in the winter months. For young people, there is a Youth Camp which has been specifically set up to provide cheap but adequate housing for those coming into Auroville.
At the conclusion of the probationary period, you will be asked to meet again with the Entry Service. At this time you will either be recommended to the Auroville community or, if there is some uncertainty, the probation period may be extended. If there are no sustainable objections from within the community, you will become an Aurovilian, and your name will be entered on the Master List of residents.
Newcomers who need to leave Auroville (or India) temporarily or permanently should inform the Entry Service and consult the Residents Service about exit procedures.
As a Newcomer, and subsequently as an Aurovilian, you are expected to contribute a fixed monthly amount towards Auroville. These contributions are used to maintain the existing infrastructure of Auroville, including roads, health services, education facilities and Newcomer housing. Additionally, a one-time administration fee contribution is requested from everyone, and you will be asked to donate a repatriation fund amount. For foreigners a return ticket to their home country needs to be shown to the Financial Service, or an amount equivalent to the cost of such a ticket deposited with the Service. This latter sum will be returned to you should you decide – or be requested – to leave Auroville, or upon becoming an Aurovilian.
If you genuinely cannot make these contributions, your situation will be considered individually. More important than the monetary contribution is your contribution through regular and useful work for the community. It is preferred that the financial contributions be given in full upon arrival, but they can be given in instalments if necessary.
As a Newcomer you are expected to maintain yourself and your dependents for at least the first year. After that, you should continue to maintain yourself for so long as you have the financial means to do so.
Participation in the community
Many services and projects are short in human resources. They appreciate very much enthusiastic people who want to get involved and give a hand. This is a great opportunity to get into contact with Aurovilians.
Then there’s housing...
As there is currently a housing shortage in Auroville, it may be difficult for Newcomers, particularly those with families, to find a suitable place to stay. Please bear in mind that Auroville cannot yet afford to build houses for all those joining, and you should therefore come prepared to live in a temporary home, and to pay for the construction of an apartment or house. Most residences in Auroville are built with contributions made by Auroville residents and Newcomers. According to Auroville Today, one has to be "able to save the substantial amount required – of the order of Rs 15 lakhs (approximately US $ 35,000) upwards – to start a life in Auroville".
There are architects, who also are in charge of land allocation, and building units to assist with construction. Currently, the housing plots for individual houses are allocated only in the exceptional cases, due to the shortage of available land. The location of new houses has to be endorsed by a particular community's members, and is finalised in consultation with the group overseeing the development of Auroville. Meanwhile, there are some Newcomer houses/units available to accommodate families or individuals for up to two years (details can be obtained from the Housing Service). If you would like to live in one of these, please contact the Entry Service before arriving in Auroville, so they can inform you about availability and the financial conditions.
As a Newcomer, you must obtain permission from the Entry Service before beginning to build your own residence. Also as a Newcomer you cannot be a trustee of any trust under the Auroville Foundation; you cannot receive a ‘maintenance’ without the approval of the Entry Service; and you cannot vote in General or Residents Assembly meetings or in the election of people for bodies like the Auroville Council and Working Committee.