Immigration Categories

A brief description of corporate immigration categories by assignment type follows. The appropriate immigration category or status for your employees will depend on their specific details and on your company. The most common category for corporate transfers in our experience is the employment visa. For details on non-typical categories not listed below (Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Cards, investors, special programs), please contact your representative.

Employment Visa is granted to foreigners who wish to come to India for the purpose of employment, subject to fulfillment of the following conditions:

  • The applicant should be highly skilled or qualified and should be appointed by an Indian company on contract or employment basis.
  • An Employment Visa is not granted for routine, ordinary or secretarial/clerical jobs.
  • The applicant should draw a salary in excess of USD $25,000 per annum.  Payroll location does not affect the immigration process; however note that taxes must be filed in India for foreign nationals with Employment Visas, even where payroll remains in the home country.
  • An Employment Visa is issued from the applicant’s country of origin, or from the country of residence of the applicant, provided the period of permanent residence of the applicant in that particular country is more than two (2) years. This is with the exception of certain Indian missions in the USA, which do not entertain applications from non-US nationals regardless of the period of residence in the country by a foreigner, unless that applicant is a Green Card holder. Those nationals classified under ‘restricted nationality’ need to file in their home country.
  • Employment Visas are generally issued for twelve (12) months initially and subsequently may be renewed in-country if the assignment is extended.

Typical Process Overview

The following process overview is applicable to the employment visa application process. Approximate overall processing time for non-restricted nationals from the time the first step is submitted to the time the employee is legal to work in India is three (3) to fifteen (15) days. However, note that lead time for document gathering at the start of the process should be factored in, as should processing time for completion of post arrival formalities. Average processing time for each individual step is noted below.

Step One: Employment Visa (Consular)
Processing Time:
Three (3) to fifteen (15) working days for non-restricted nationals; however, if the Consulate refers the application for additional clearance, the processing time will be much longer

Emigra Worldwide can file the application and justifying documents with the Indian High Commission or Embassy/Consulate in the applicant’s country of nationality or residence, provided that the applicant meets the salary criteria of USD $25,000 per year and has resided there for at least a continuous period of two (2) years preceding the application and can provide documented evidence to this effect.

Step Two: Registration at Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)
Processing Time: Varies depending on location; one (1) to two (2) days in some cities, ten (10) to fifteen (15) days in others

Applicants and their dependents who have visas for durations of longer than one-hundred-eighty (180) days must register at a Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within fourteen (14) calendar days of arrival. This requirement will be noted on the visa.  FRROs are present in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Other offices are termed Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) only.  All members of the family, including children, must register, and their personal appearance is mandatory.

Typical Documents Obtained

Following the employment visa application process described above will result in the obtention of the following immigration documents. Typical validity is noted next to each document name. For details on the renewal process, please see the next section, “Renewal.”

  • Employment Visa: Twelve (12) months, or in line with the duration of the assignment as per the employment contract or letter of assignment.
  • Registration Certificate and Residential Permit: In conjunction with the Employment Visa, or in line with the duration of assignment as per the employment contract or letter of assignment.

Renewal

Renewal is possible. Renewal processes take four (4) to six (6) weeks; please allow two (2) weeks of lead time for document gathering.

Deregistration

The government of India requires all applicants and their dependents to hand over their original Residential Permits and Certificates of Registration to the Immigration Official at the port of exit (i.e., airport) at the time of final departure from the country. The original documents are internally forwarded by the immigration official to the jurisdictional Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) to update the immigration records. Visas remain valid until their expiry date. However, on any subsequent visit with the same visa, the applicant will have to re-register with local FRRO/FRO.

Dependents

Dependent immigration status approval depends on the immigration status of the principal applicant. Where the principal applicant is in India with an employment visa, the following rules apply for dependents:

  • Minimum age (spouses): Not Applicable
  • Maximum age (children): Twenty-one (21) years
  • Unmarried partners: No
  • Same sex partners: No
  • Non-traditional dependents (e.g. parents): No
  • Work authorization granted? No

Application Materials

Application materials vary depending on the immigration category being applied for and on the specifics of the case. We will advise you in detail regarding your specific case; however, general application materials for employment visa applications are noted below.

  • General application materials include current resume (C.V.), birth and marriage certificates, corporate tax documents, and corporate registration certificates.
  • All documentation must be submitted in English. Emigra Worldwide can assist with the translation requirements.

Business Visitors

  • Name of visa granted: Business Visa
  • Duration of stay: Should not exceed one hundred eighty (180) days on a single visit.
  • General activities permitted: Orientation, home-finding, and other preparation for employment, including attending business discussions, meetings and business fairs can be conducted under business visitor status.  Note that no consulting project work can be carried out on business visa status.

Change of Status

It is not possible for visitors to change their status to an employment visa while in-country. Spouses on ‘X’ (Entry) Visas of an employee on intra-company transfer are permitted to convert to an Employment Visa within country.

Salary and Payroll

Salary and payroll requirements vary depending on the immigration category and on the specifics of the case. In India, there are minimum salary requirements in place. Applicant should draw a salary in excess of USD $25,000 per annum. Payroll location does not affect the immigration process; however, note that taxes must be paid in India for foreign nationals with employment visas, even where payroll remains in the home country. Please contact your representative for more details for your specific situation.

Qualifications

Qualification requirements will vary from case to case and will depend on the immigration category under which the application is made. However, in general, the immigration authorities do expect to see an undergraduate degree. In some situations, a strong case may be made for applicants without a degree provided their level of experience and industry specific qualification is high. Please contact your representative for more details.

Red Flags

In our experience, the following points are important to note at the start of the process. If any of the below situations apply to you, contact your representative immediately for further detailed advice.

  • Not meeting salary requirement of USD $25,000 per annum.
  • Absence of degree while processing applications in some of the Indian Missions overseas.
  • Unmarried partners cannot receive dependent status.
  • Restricted Nationals: Special procedures and greatly extended processing times apply for nationals of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China.
  • Renewals are complex, as immigration laws are not based on written guidelines, and are assessed on a case by case basis at the discretion of the individual immigration officer.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The government of India takes immigration non-compliance very seriously. Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and imprisonment.

Employee Penalties:

Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and challenges in future immigration process into India.

Employer Penalties:

Penalties for non-compliance may include fines, deportation, and blacklisting of the company, resulting in additional scrutiny of any future applications submitted on their behalf.

For more details, please contact your representative.

Bilateral Agreements

  • Overseas Citizen of India (OCI): This designation affords special privileges for foreign nationals and their children who are of Indian origin or held Indian citizenship on or after 26 January 1950. Persons of Indian Origin (up to the fourth generation) are eligible for OCI cards.  These cards provide holders visa free entry and all of the rights of non-resident Indians (NRIs) including non-restricted residence and employment.