Visas and Work Permits 9 min

Work permits and visas in India: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman

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If you’re considering hiring from India or have an employee who wants to relocate to the country, you must make sure they have the correct work permits and visas to live and work there. Indian employment laws can be complicated. To legally hire a non-citizen of India, you must consider local immigration requirements. Failing to comply with local laws may lead to financial or legal issues.

Many employers choose to work with an employer of record (EOR) like Remote to manage the processes involved in international hiring and relocation. Remote can handle onboarding, benefits, global payroll, while ensuring compliance with immigration laws, tax practices, and labor legislation in the country of hiring.

This article gives you an overview of India's work visa requirements and work permits, eligibility requirements, and application process.

The importance of immigration compliance in India

Illegal migration to work in India has been going on for decades. As a result, the Indian government has become strict about enforcing the law against foreign nationals who are found to be working illegally while staying in India. 

For instance, anyone who works in India on a tourist visa is in breach of Section 14(b) of The Foreigners Act (1946), which declares that anyone who violates any conditions of the visa they have been granted may be subject to some or all of the following sanctions:

  • Monetary fines

  • Forfeiture of any bond paid

  • Imprisonment for up to five years

It is in your digital nomad employee's best interest not to work in India while traveling on a tourist visa. The Indian Tourist visa cannot be extended and usually cannot be converted into any other kind of visa. Therefore, anyone planning to perform remote work in India must apply well in advance for an employment visa instead of entering the country on a tourist visa with the hopes of converting it into an India work permit.

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Which workers need a right-to-work check in India?

While Indian citizens generally do not need a right-to-work check to work in India, any non-Indian citizen who intends to work while staying in India must apply for an Employment visa or a Business visa.

When it comes to an employment relationship, it is the employer's responsibility to check the right-to-work status of any foreign national they wish to employ while the employee resides in India. The employer can establish the individual's right to work by checking their visa, passport, or Permanent Account Number (PAN) card. 

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in India?

Yes. Any foreign national who wishes to work for pay while residing temporarily in India must apply for an Employment Visa or a Business Visa.

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in India?

For digital nomads to avoid violating the law and exposing themselves to criminal and financial punishments while temporarily residing and working remotely in India, they must apply for an Employment visa or a Business visa.

Employment visa

To receive the Indian Employment visa, a foreign national must meet one of the following criteria: 

  • They are a highly skilled and/or qualified professional;

  • They are a senior management employee of an international company; 

  • They are involved in a non-government organization (NGO); or

  • They are employed in India as a specialist on a particular project by a foreign company.

A minimum salary of 25,000 USD is required for a foreign national to qualify for an Employment Visa.

The Indian government will grant the worker’s Employment visa only with proof that the employing company has a registered branch office or legal business entity in India.

To apply for an Employment visa in India, the employee must furnish the High Commission or Embassy of India with the following documents:

  • A visa application form

  • A passport that (a) will be valid for a minimum of one year and (b) contains a minimum of three blank pages for stamps

  • Two passport photos

  • A copy of the employee's passport information page

  • An appointment letter from your company, which should describe the employee's annual salary information

  • An employment contract, which (a) is written in English and (b) contains the conditions and length of the employment relationship

  • A resume that is written in English

  • Proof of the employee's current address

  • A tax liability letter that certifies that you, as the employing company, will take responsibility for paying taxes on the employee's behalf

  • Copies of diplomas and other documentation that provide evidence of the employee's professional qualifications and experience

  • A copy of your company's registration certificate in India

Business visa

Foreign nationals who wish to enter India to establish a business should apply for an Indian Business visa. Foreign nationals may be eligible for other purposes besides establishing a business. But the most likely scenario for a self-employed digital nomad is the establishment of a company in India. 

To apply for a Business visa, in addition to the documentation that is required for the Employment visa, the foreign national must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of their financial standing

  • Proof of their expertise and/or qualifications in their proposed position, field, or industry

  • Documentation of proposed business activity for their company

  • Proof of registration of their business in India

What are the long-stay visa types in India?

There are several types of long-stay visas available in India, including:

Employment visa

The Indian Employment visa, which applies only to highly skilled individuals planning to reside and work temporarily in the country, has a maximum duration of five years (or the period of the employee's contract). This visa can be extended if necessary.

Business Visa

The Business visa, intended for foreign nationals who visit or stay temporarily in India for business purposes, can be issued for a maximum of five years and can be extended if necessary.

X or Entry Visa

In India, the X Visa, also known as the Entry Visa, applies to the spouses and children of a foreign national who comes to India on another type of visa, such as an Employment or Business Visa. 

How do you get a work visa for India?

To apply for any visa that allows a foreign national to work while staying in India, the employee must follow the Government of India's three-step visa application process:

  1. Fill out and submit a visa application form, which is located on the Government of India's visa website

    1. The employee may also upload a digital photograph of themselves for identification purposes.

    2. After submitting the visa application online, the employee can also opt to schedule their in-person visa appointment at either their local Indian Visa Application Center or the closest Indian Mission, Embassy, or Consulate. 

    3. If the employee chooses to schedule their appointment at this time, any applicable fee will be calculated and displayed, including any applicable service charge, VAT, or other fees. In India, Visa fees may vary depending on the individual situation and circumstances.

  2. Gather the necessary documents outlined previously. The employee should submit all of their physical documentation at the time of the in-person visa appointment. At the same time, the foreign national must also pay any applicable fees. 

  3. After performing all necessary checks, the Indian government will then return the foreign national's passport, either by mail or by requesting the individual to pick up their passport at the Visa Application Center, Embassy, or Consulate where the in-person visa appointment took place.

The Indian visa application takes a minimum processing time of three days from the time the Indian government receives the application. To prevent any delays or issues, the employee should apply for their India work visa well in advance of their departure or relocation date.

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in India?

To enter India on an Employment visa, a digital nomad must obtain sponsorship from a company registered in India. The sponsoring employer must be able to prove to the Indian government that the proposed job role at the Indian-registered company cannot be fulfilled by available local talent. The employer is also responsible for confirming the individual is legally allowed to work in India. 

The employing company must also: 

  • Confirm the employee's work experience and high level of skills and qualifications before commencing the employment relationship

  • Ensure the highly skilled employee maintains their credentials and qualifications throughout employment

  • Ensure the employee's annual salary meets the 25,000 USD minimum threshold

  • Assess, deduct, and pay the appropriate payroll and/or income taxes to the Indian government on the employee's behalf

  • Create an employment contract and furnish all supporting documents necessary for the visa office to process the employee's visa application

Relocating an employee internationally can be highly stressful. Remote offers a relocation program to ensure your employee's relocation process is seamless for both your company and the employee. To find out about work visa sponsorship options in India, contact our team for specialist advice.

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in India?

There is no specific visa catering to digital nomads in India. 

How Remote makes compliance in India so much easier

If you are considering allowing a current employee to relocate to India or anywhere else in the world, you are likely aware that the process can be extremely stressful for both you and your employee.  There are many potential complexities to bear in mind, which include immigration considerations, visas, and compliance with employment laws. It’s legally and financially risky to work with an employee who does not have the correct work permit or visa to live and work in the country.

Remember, partnering with Remote can reduce the hassle of hiring abroad. Apart from the admin work involved in hiring, paying, and managing employees abroad, Remote can help you:

  • Avoid permanent establishment risks

  • Ensure compliance with local employment rules

  • Help you understand how taxation works in the destination country.

Learn more about what the process of relocation entails by reading Remote’s Relocation Guide. You can also contact our team to find out more about employee relocation options in India today!

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link to Guide on hiring in India
India
14 min

Guide on hiring in India

India’s labor laws, payroll regulations, and benefits requirements vary among different states and union territories. India’s federal government does enforce certain requirements all around the country, however. This guide on hiring employees in India covers all the basics.

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