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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

India offers a variety of visas for foreign nationals wishing to enter country. Indian employment visas are available for foreign firms wishing to employ highly-skilled professionals, while ordinary clerical / secretarial workers are usually not granted such visas. Employment visas are generally valid for one year, and are renewable for a maximum of five years.

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Use your own company

Foreign nationals wishing to work in India have to obtain an employment visa first.

Employment visas are granted to the following individuals:

  • Skilled or qualified professionals
  • Foreign nationals visiting India for employment in companies in India or in foreign companies executing projects in India

Generally, employment visas are not issued for ordinary secretarial/clerical jobs if there are a large number of locally qualified staff.

In addition, the foreign national must earn a salary that exceeds USD25,000 per year. However, the salary threshold of USD25,000 (this limit includes all cash payments and perquisites that are taxed in India) does not apply to certain individuals—ethnic cooks, language teachers (other than English teachers), translators and staff—working for an embassy or high commission in India.

Step 1: Apply for an employment visa in the applicant’s country of origin

Visas may only be issued by an Indian embassy or consulate. The employment visa must be issued from the foreign national’s country of origin, or from the foreign national’s country of domicile provided the applicant’s period of permanent residence in that particular country is more than two years.

The applicant is not permitted to change employer for the entire duration of the employment visa. However, the MHA has clarified that this excludes change of employers from a registered holding company to its subsidiary or vice versa, or between subsidiaries of a registered holding company.

The applicant must complete the relevant application form (which can be obtained here ) and submit the following documents:

  • Passport with a minimum of 6 months validity
  • Passport size photographs
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Copy of online filled form
  • Appointment letter
  • Contract letter
  • Resume of applicant
  • Organization registration
  • Tax liability letter
  • Project details
  • Sponsor letter from organization in India
  • Justification letter from employer

When applying for an employment visa, the intended legal entity and the location of work in India must be clearly specified because the mandatory registration at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) is based on the place of work as endorsed on the visa.

Agency: Indian Consulate/Embassy

Cost: Between US$15 and US$1,000, depending on the length of the visa

Time: Varies

Duration: The employment visa is generally valid for one year, irrespective of the length of the employment contract. This can be renewed upon application to the MHA/Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) at a later date up to a maximum of five years. However, certain exemptions apply. For example a foreign technician may get a visa for period of five years while a highly skilled IT person may get up to three.

More information on visas can be found here.

 Step 2: Obtain a residence permit

All foreign nationals must register with the police authorities at the local registration office [FRO/FRRO] within 14 days of their date of arrival if their visas are valid for longer than six months or if the visa stamp specifically requires this registration. A foreign national holding a visa with a duration of six months or less who wishes to stay in India beyond the period of validity must register within two weeks after 180 days from the time of arrival in India.

A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holder whose continuous stay in India exceeds 180 days is required to register within 30 days after 180 days from the time of arrival in India.

The foreign national will be required to present his or her original passport and visa for verification during registration with the authorities.

Registration is generally valid for the visa’s duration or for one year, whichever is less, and may be extended on application.

Upon registration, the foreign national will be provided with a a registration booklet containing his or her latest photograph, details of residence and certain other information. His or her passport will also be “endorsed” as proof that registration has been done. The foreign national must notify the registration authorities regarding any permanent change in his or her address, any proposed absences from the registered address for a continuous period of eight weeks or more or any stays for a period of more than eight weeks in a district other than the district of his or her registered address.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Once you get in touch with us, one of our consultants will take all the work off your hands, coordinate with our local partners to get all the required permits organised, provide the processing time, costs, document-checklist and keep you informed through the process. Contact us to know more.

Types of visas in India

Category Description of Visa
Employment Visa (E)

a. Foreign nationals coming to India as consultant on contract for whom the Indian Company pays fixed remuneration (this may not be in the form of a monthly salary).

b. Foreign artists engaged to conduct regular performances for the duration of the employment contract given by Hotels, Clubs or other organizations.

c. Foreign nationals who are coming to India to take up employment as coaches of national/state level teams or reputed sports clubs.

d. Foreign sportsmen who are given a contract for a specified period by Indian Clubs/Organizations.

e. Self-employed foreign nationals coming to India for providing Engineering, Medical, Accounting, Legal or such other highly skilled services in their capacity as independent consultants provided the provision of such services is permitted under law.

f. Foreign language teachers/interpreters.

g. Foreign specialist chefs.

h. Foreign nationals deputed for providing technical support/services transfer of know-how/services for which the Indian company pays fee/royalty to the foreign company.

i. Senior management personnel and/or specialists employed by foreign firms who are relocated to India to work on specific project/management assignments.

Duration: Generally for one year, renewable up to a maximum of five years. Exemptions may apply for certain classes of workers (e.g. technicians, highly-skilled IT workers)

Cost: Ranges from US$15 and US$1,000, depending on the length of the visa

Business Visa (B)

Applicants must satisfy the following criteria to be granted a business visa:

1. The applicant should be a person of assured financial standing and has expertise in the field of the intended business.
2. The applicant is not visiting India for the business of money lending or petty trading or for a full time employment in India including payment of salary in India.
3. The applicant will have to comply with all other requirements like payment of tax liabilities etc.

The granting of a Business Visa is subject to any instructions issued by the Government of India on the basis of reciprocity with other foreign countries from time to time.

A business visa may be issued to a foreign national visiting India for the purpose of carrying out the following activities:

• Establishing a business venture
• Exploring the possibility of an industrial or business venture in India
• Purchase and sale of industrial, commercial or consumer products
• Attending technical meetings or discussions
• Attending board meetings and general meetings
• Recruitment of manpower
• Functioning as partners or directors in a business
• Consultation or participation with respect to exhibitions, trade fairs or business fairs
• Meeting with suppliers or potential suppliers to evaluate or monitor quality, negotiate supplies, place orders and provide specifications for goods procured from India
• Monitoring progress on ongoing projects
• Meeting with Indian customers on ongoing projects
• Meeting to provide high-level technical guidance on ongoing projects
• Activity before and after a sale that does not amount to the execution of a contract
• In-house training at the regional hubs of a foreign company
• Foreign students sponsored by the AIESEC who are serving as interns on project-based work in companies and industries
• Serving as a tour conductor or travel agent

Duration: A maximum of 5 years. A multiple entry visa valid up-to 10 years may be available to foreign nationals who have set up or intend to set up a joint venture in India.

More information can be found at: http://boi.gov.in/content/business-visa-b

Family members

Entry visas are issued to accompanying family members of individuals visiting India on business or for employment.

However, spouses or dependents of working expatriates must obtain work permits in their own right to be employed in India.

Family members intending to reside with a working expatriate are also required to register with the local authorities.

Conference visa

Conference visas may be granted to foreign nationals intending to visit India with the sole objective of attending a conference, seminar or workshop (event).

Project Visa

Project visas have recently been introduced for foreign nationals employed in the power and steel sector, although the number of visas that may be granted per project is subject to a quota.

Project visas would be only issued to skilled/highly skilled foreign nationals. However, project visas may be granted to two chefs and two interpreters per project.

Granting of these visas are project specific and would be restricted to the location of the project. A foreign national coming on a project visa is not permitted to take up employment in the same Indian company for a period of two years from the date of commissioning of the project. However, the foreign national may be granted a non-extendable business visa to attend any emergent maintenance/commissioning issues in the Indian company.

The visas would be renewable subject to MHA approval.



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