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Work Permits in India

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When expanding your business to India, you may want to bring part of your foreign employees over to help run your operations or consider hiring an individual who is already residing in India as an immigrant. For this, you'll need to secure a valid work visa for hiring in India.

However, obtaining work permits and visas in India can be complex. You'll encounter legal intricacies and various visa categories to navigate, all while ensuring compliance with local labor laws.

In this article, we'll explain the different types of Indian work visas, who are eligible, and how employers can help with the process.

Understanding India's Work Permits and Visas

A work permit, which is also called a work visa, is an official document that the Indian government gives to foreigners so they can legally enter and work in the country for a certain amount of time. However, there are different eligibility requirements for Indian work permits based on the type of work and length of stay.

Work Permit Eligibility in India

Foreigners are not granted employment permits for regular clerical jobs. Work visas in India are granted exclusively to highly skilled professionals who intend to work as employees for companies officially registered in India. 

Nonetheless, several occupations are exempt, including:

  • Ethnic Cooks for Foreign Missions: This category applies to cooks employed by foreign missions in India, excluding those in commercial ventures.
  • Language Teachers/Translators: Language teachers and translators, excluding English language teachers and teachers of subjects in a foreign language.
  • Embassy/High Commission Staff: These are employees working for diplomatic missions.
  • Honorary Work with NGOs: Foreigners engaged in honorary work with registered NGOs in India without receiving a salary.
  • Faculty at Specific Universities: Faculty members at South Asian University, Nalanda University, and foreign teaching faculty.
  • Circus Artists: Circus artists seeking employment in India.

If applicants do not fall under this category, they must demonstrate that they hold senior executive positions or possess exceptional skills, with an annual income exceeding $25,000 USD during their stay in the country.

With this, it is crucial to ensure that any foreign worker you intend to bring to India or employ locally, possesses the necessary work authorization and the correct visa status. Overlooking this aspect can lead to significant legal consequences for employers and foreign employees, potentially resulting in fines, penalties, or deportation.

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Types of Work Permits and Visas in India

Indian work permits differ based on various factors, such as the skills possessed by the applicant, individual attributes, and the duration of employment, which can span from six months to as long as five years. 

Visa options in India comprise of:

Employment Visa

The Employment Visa, commonly called the E-Visa, is the most in-demand work permit in India and is likely the one your employees will require.

The Employment Visa is specifically designed for highly skilled foreign nationals who have been sponsored to work either for an established Indian company or a multinational corporation that has an entity in India.

This visa may be renewed at the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in India if the job contract is still in effect. 

Those who intend to operate in India with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may also be eligible for this type of visa but in a different category. However, they must make at least 10,000 Indian rupees (INR) a month to qualify for this visa.

It is essential to have a registered firm in India that can support each employee before starting the E-Visa application process. You may register this entity on your own or through an Indian agency. You may also consider opting for an Employer of Record in India, where you won't have to worry about the entity registration process, as the Employer of Record will also serve as your foreign employees' legal employer in India.

Business Visa

This is intended for entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in India. This specific visa allows for numerous entries during the approved time, with the gap between each visit not exceeding six months. The validity period ranges from six months to a year or more.

Obtaining a business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company or organization outlining the following:

  • Nature of the business
  • The anticipated duration of stay 
  • The companies and locations being visited 
  • Guarantee of financial support throughout the visit 

The visa can be valid for 10 years and encompass multiple entries for foreign businesspeople who intend to set up joint ventures in India.

Read More: Cost of an employee vs. cost of a contractor

Applying for an Indian Work Permit

The application process for acquiring an Indian work visa involves three main stages:

1. Gathering the required documents

2. Completing an online application

3. Visiting the Indian Consulate  

Gathering the required documents

Ensure your employee has the necessary documentation before heading to the Indian Embassy. 

The Indian High Commission/Embassy/Consulate needs the following paperwork when filing for an E visa:

Required Documents for an Employment Visa (E Visa)

Before filing an application for an E visa, your employee must have the following documents ready:

·  A valid passport

·  Passport images with a white background

·  Employment contract from a company registered in India

·  Registration documents from your employer or sponsor

·  Proof of professional experience

Required Documents for a Business Visa (B Visa)

On the other hand, the documents required for a B visa application are as follows:

·  A valid passport

·  Passport images with a white background

·  Documentation proving the existence of the business

·  Proof of proposed business activity

·  Approval Letter from Government of India or RBI (case-to-case basis)

·  Articles of incorporation listing the directors' names

·  Director's Identification Number

·  PAN card

·  Proof of financial standing

Completing an online application

Once your employee has all the documents ready, they must begin the process by visiting the official website of the Indian Government to complete the visa application online.
When applying for an E-visa, your employee must indicate your employment agreement and registration certificate.

After submitting the application form online, you need to make sure your employee prints a physical copy of the application. He or she must bring this printed copy to the embassy along with your passport and ID photos.

Visiting the Indian Consulate

Your employee must visit the nearest embassy or consulate to submit their application documents. Upon approval of their application, they can choose between having the visa delivered to their residence or collect it in person at the embassy.

Important Note: If your employee is a foreign national intending to reside in India continuously for more than six months, they must register with a Foreign Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO), or the local police superintendent. 

To avoid penalties, their registration must be completed within two weeks of their arrival in India. 

Additionally, to initiate their supplemental registration with the FRO or FRRO, your employee must secure the following documents:

·  Four (4) ID photos

·  Approved visa and passport (with stamped proof of immigration)

·  Proof of Residency

·  A request letter from your employer or sponsor

·  A notarized letter of undertaking

Ensuring they follow these steps diligently will help streamline the process of obtaining an Indian work permit and ensure compliance with the necessary regulations.

Indian Work Visa Processing Times

The visa processing times can vary widely depending on the:

  • Applicant's country of origin
  • Type of visa needed
  • Intended duration of stay
  • Workload of Indian immigration authorities

Application processing times can range from a few days to several weeks, so it's advisable to apply at least 120 days ahead to ensure that all your employees' visas are valid before relocating to India. For the most up-to-date information, you can contact the Indian consulate or embassy in your employees' home country.

Read More: How to hire employees in India

Cost of an Indian Work Visa

The cost of an Indian work visa is not fixed. Depending on your country and its currency, the application cost will vary.

For a Business Visa, it can range anywhere from $130 USD to $495 USD. Typically, a single or multiple-entry B Visa with a shorter validity period tends to be more affordable than a multiple-entry Visa valid for five years.

Conversely, for an Employment Visa, the cost can vary significantly, ranging from $120 USD to $560 USD, depending on your country of origin and the intended duration of stay. To obtain precise and up-to-date cost information for each application, it is advisable to contact the High Commission of India in your respective country.

Employer Obligations for Work Permits and Visas

To work in India, the process of obtaining work visas and permits involves several steps. 

It is crucial to adhere to each and ensure you as an employer, complies with the following requirements:

  • Employment Contract: This requirement is the most important document one must produce before hiring foreign workers in India. 
  • Sponsorship Document: Employers who are sponsoring foreign employees or Indian immigrants must provide a formal letter of invitation and supporting documentation for the visa application.
  • Legal Compliance: Employers must comply with all Indian labor laws and immigration regulations. They should ensure that foreign employees always have the necessary work permits and visas.
  • Documentation: It is crucial for employers to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of foreign employees, including their visa and work permit documents. Providing employees with copies of their visa and work permit is also essential.
  • Salary and Benefits: Employers should pay foreign employees in accordance with Indian labor laws and the agreed-upon terms in their employment contracts. Furthermore, companies must ensure that foreign employees have access to the same benefits and protections as Indian employees, such as social security, insurance, and other benefits.
  • Taxes: Employers are responsible for deducting and depositing applicable taxes, such as income tax and social security contributions, from the salaries of foreign employees in accordance with Indian tax laws. Providing foreign employees with necessary tax documentation, such as Form 16, is also part of their duties.

If you have an employee relocating to India and wish to retain them, consider using an Employer of Record (EOR) service like Gloroots. With Gloroots' EOR services, you can onboard your employees in their new location and also facilitate the process of obtaining work permits for your relocated employees.

Navigating Work Permits and Visas in India with Gloroots

Partnering with Gloroots and its experts can offer you a solution to this entire process.

  • Enhancing Visa Process Transparency: At Gloroots, we offer a streamlined and transparent visa acquisition process that provides greater clarity and security compared to conventional sponsorship organizations and immigration services.
  • Ensuring Compliance and Risk Management: We fully grasp the critical role of compliance and are dedicated to guiding you through the complexities of Indian labor and immigration regulations, reducing potential risks.
  • Simplifying Global Hiring: As your trusted Employer of Record, Gloroots leverages an integrated global platform encompassing global payroll, visa, and immigration facilitation, background checks, workspace access, equity management, and contractor recruitment, making international hiring simple.

Gloroots will take care of the applications and permits from the very beginning and keep you updated on their developments.

India Work Permit FAQs

Does the Indian organization or entity sponsoring the Employment Visa have to be the legal employer of the person?

No, it is not mandatory. This is where agencies and Employer of Record (EOR) services come into play to facilitate such arrangements.

I have a B visa. Can I change it to an E visa or another type of visa inside the country?

No, people from other countries who are already in India on business visas can't change them to work visas. To get a new visa, he needs to go back to their home country. You can find more information about this in the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Can I get a job in India while I'm there on a business visa?

No, a foreigner with a business visa cannot work in India. An employment visa is the only way for a foreigner to work in India.

Can foreign workers get E visas even if they don't have a job offer from an Indian company?

E visas are generally not available to foreign workers until they have a valid employment contract with a registered Indian company that sponsors their application.

How do you renew your Indian work permit?

Not all Indian work visas are renewable. For E visas, you can request an extension through your local Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). Ensure you initiate the application no later than two months before your current visa expires.

Are family members included in work visa applications in India?

Yes, people with visas can usually bring their spouses and children who rely on them into the country. Everyone in the employee's family gets an X-visa with the same expiry date. You might need to show proof of your relationship, your finances, and different applications for entry visas. People in the family may also have to go through security checks.

I don't work at a high level. Can I still get an employment visa?

India does not give out employment visas for entry-level, mid-level, or office jobs. The visa is usually only given to people with top or specialized jobs.

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