Indian Employment visa rules

Questions and Answers


Indian Immigration , Work Visa , Residency and Sponsorship :

Legal disclaimer: These FAQs were prepared by Indian Law Office of Prashant Ajmera & Associates in December 2011 and the information provided is correct as of that date. Indian immigration rules and policies are included in many different Acts and have evolved considerably in last 2-3 years by means of notifications issued by the government of India on a need-of-the-hour basis. Please refer to the latest government rules, regulations and notifications before proceeding on any immigration or visa related matter or consult a professional legal advisor.

These FAQs were prepared to provide a general guideline for foreign workers and not created for the purpose creating a client/attorney relationship. Immigration and visa issues are complex matters and it is always prudent to obtain legal advice in case of doubt.

1. How can I get a work visa in India ?

Like most countries in the world, work visa, known as Employment Visa of India, is available to foreigners if there is an Indian company willing to sponsor or offer a letter of employment to the foreign worker and if there are no Indians available to do the job. However there are some exceptions.

2. Can I apply for a work visa on my own ?

You can apply on your own provided you have an Indian company/employer who is ready to sponsor you.

3. Can I hire someone to assist me in processing my papers ?

You can hire an Indian lawyer who practices Indian immigration law. Hiring an agent or consultant is illegal. As per the Indian Advocates Act of 1961, giving advice on immigration and visa related matters is considered a legal matter and hence only Indian lawyers are allowed to practice immigration law whether it is related to Indian or foreign immigration and visa matter.

4. What are the documents I need to submit ?

The following documents are required to be submitted if one wishes to apply for an employment visa of India. These documents have to be submitted at an Indian visa post in the applicant’s home country or the nearest Indian mission outside of India responsible for the applicant’s country of residence:
• Completed application form
• Visa fees
• Two passport size photos
• The foreign worker must possess a valid travel document/passport and a re-entry permit to enter back in his/her country of residence.
• Appointment letter and service contract from an Indian company in which the applicant’s salary should be above US$25,000 per year. This rule does not apply to ethnic cooks, translators, staff members working for diplomatic missions and power and steel plant workers.
• Complete resume of the foreign worker with education related documents and work experience letters from each of the companies the applicant has worked for in the past.
• Copy of the Indian company’s certificate of registration, all types of business registration documents, registration with the export promotion council and other proof showing the type of business activity the company is involved in and the size of the company.

5. How long do I have to wait for my papers to be processed ?

Most visa posts will issue a visa either on the same day or within 2-3 days if all documentation is complete and up to the satisfaction of the visa officer.

6. Where can I check on the status of my application ?

As of now, Government of India does not offer an online service to check for visa status but in many countries such as USA and Canada, the Indian government has outsourced visa services to private companies and these companies do provide a passport tracking system.

7. Can I come to the India on a tourist visa to find work ?

No. Tourist visas are issued for leisure and travel purposes only and cannot be used to look for job opportunities in India.

8. What happens when an employer asks me to work immediately without a valid working visa processed ?

You cannot and should not work without a valid visa. Such an employer is in violation of the Indian law. The foreign worker is also in violation of the Indian immigration laws and is subject to deportation.

9. Aside from obtaining a work visa, how else can I reside in India ?

Foreign nationals can reside in India if there are married to an Indian national. The Indian government also offers a business visa to foreign persons who wish to start a business and reside in India.

10. How can my partner/spouse or children who work and live in India sponsor my residency ?

If your spouse or partner is working and living in India on an employment visa, you will be issued X visa subject to security check and its validity is subject to the duration of your spouse’s employment visa. Your dependent children are also eligible to obtain this X visa and the same conditions apply.
However, if your child is living and working in India on employment visa, you are entitled to obtain only a visitor visa to visit your child in India. Your child cannot sponsor your residency in India.

11. Can I apply for permanent residency and acquire citizenship when I get my work visa ?

No, you cannot apply for Permanent Residency or Citizenship of India unless you marry an Indian citizen or have at least one parent who is of Indian origin.

12. Can I get a job if I have my residency sponsored by my family ?

You cannot work while on a dependent visa obtained by virtue of a person who is on employment visa.

13. Where can I find more information on residency and citizenship ?

Information is available on the official Government of India website.

14. How long is the validity of the work visa before it expires ?

In general, an employment visa is granted for the validity of the service contract or two years, whichever period is shorter and this visa is usually a multiple entry visa, meaning, the holder can move in and out of the country during the validity of the visa.
If the visa is for more than 180 days (6 months), the foreign worker must register with the Foreign Regional Registered Office (FRRO) / FRO within 14 days of arrival in India. If registered late, the foreign worker will face a penalty of US$30.

15. How can I renew my Indian employment visa ?

Employment visas can be renewed within India up to a limit of 5 years upon demonstrating proof of paying taxes, a renewed job offer letter from the foreign worker’s employer and if there has been no adverse security concern about the foreign worker. Renewal must be made at least 15 days prior to but not more than 60 days before the expiration of visa.
The following documents are required for renewal of Indian Employment visa:
• Visa Extension form (available on website).
• 1 recent passport size photograph.
• Copy of the renewed appointment letter/valid employment contract.
• Copy of passport/visa/Registration Certificate.
• Request letter and an undertaking on the employer’s company letter head duly stamped and signed by an authorized signatory.
• Copy of Form-16/Income Tax papers in case the applicant has been residing in India for more than a year and TDS Challans/Certificate for the current year.
• Copy of valid and notarized lease/rent agreement OR copy of C-Form from the hotel OR copy of a recent electricity/telephone bill along with a letter from the landlord, to demonstrate proof of residence.
• Passport in original.
• Acknowledgement slip (available on website).
• Letter proving that the foreigner is drawing a salary of more than US$25, 000 per annum.

16. What will my proof of visa be ?

visa sticker will be affixed on your passport / travel document.

17. How long can I stay outside India before my work visa expires ?

There is no limit as such on how long you can stay outside of India but certainly not beyond the validity of your visa, otherwise, you will need to apply again for an employment visa at a visa post outside India.

18. Does India have single and multiple visa entries? How do I get a multiple visa entry ?

Yes India does have single and multiple entry visas. In most cases, an employment visa will be issued for multiple entries unless the period of employment is for a very short duration.

19. How can I transfer my work visa from one employer to the next ?

Special approval must be obtained from the Ministry of Home affairs for change of company / employer

20. Is there a grace period to renew employment visa ?

There is a limit of a maximum of five years for renewal of employment visa from the date of the first visa issued.

21. When my work visa expires in India, how can I re-enter India and accept a new job ?

You apply for a new work visa at a visa post abroad provided you meet the requirements of the new visa and have not violated the terms of your visa on previous occasion(s).

22. How do I make sure I don’t get banned from re-entry ?

Follow the rules, regulations and conditions of your employment visa and respect the laws of India.

23. What are the government fees I have to pay for while I’m on my work visa ?

Citizens of different countries are subject to different visa fees. Please contact the Indian visa post nearest to you or consult the official website of the Government of India. Citizens of certain countries are exempt from paying visa fees. In many countries, Indian consular services are handled by third party service providers and they charge additional fees for services offered.
Example : US Citizens :

Duration of Visa Consular Fee Service Fee Total Fee
6 Months Multiple Entry $123.00 $13.00 $136.00
1 Year Multiple Entry $163.00 $13.00 $176.00

24. If my passport expires before my visa expires while I’m in India, what should I do ?

In general, an employment visa or any other visa of India or any other country for that matter will not be issued beyond the validity of the applicant’s passport or travel document. However, once you are in India on employment visa, before you apply for an extension of the employment visa, you must contact your country’s visa post / embassy in India and obtain an extended or new passport if your passport is going to expire before the end of your employment contract.

25. Will an expat’s child born in the India acquire citizenship ?

An expat’s child born in India cannot get citizenship of India automatically unless one of the parents is of “Indian origin” as defined in the Citizenship Act of India and meets certain other requirements to be eligible to apply for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card and/or for residency in India.

26. I am an Indian national currently living overseas with a foreign nationality. What are the requirements for my partner to be able to reside with me in India ?

If your partner/spouse is not of Indian origin and you are holding an Indian passport and have not taken up citizenship of any other country, you can apply for residency visa of India for your spouse under marriage sponsorship.
If you are an Indian but have taken up citizenship of another country and are married to a foreign national, you are eligible to apply for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. If you decide to live in India, you can apply for residency for your spouse under marriage sponsorship. However, until the sponsorship application is approved, the spouse/partner should have a valid visitor visa to stay in India legally and must register with the FRRO/FRO.