India is a magnet for companies expanding into the fifth-fasting growing global economy. Its vast consumer base has growing demand among the middle classes while offering low wages, affordable accommodation and an educated workforce at the business level.
As with all countries, companies and potential employees have procedures and documentation to navigate before taking a job or onboarding staff. The law regarding immigration and work-related visas is strict and complicated and can lead to employees being stopped at the border, deported and denylisted if individuals or companies have incorrect paperwork – so care is required.
Foreigners visiting for tourism, business, medical treatment etc. (but not paid employment) require a visa. Many countries’ nationals can apply for these visas online.
Nationals who want to pay employment require a work visa (except Overseas Citizens of India, OCI, card cardholders). Companies bringing staff to India must be registered in India and comply with all employment-related paperwork. Requirements are complicated and varied, so getting it right reduces risk delays and increased costs. With over 20 years of experience with their Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) specialists and Employer of Record (EOR) platforms, Bradford Jacobs has the local knowledge and global know-how. Let us deal with the documentation while you progress to the next step.
To enter India, no matter the reason or the duration, all travellers require a visa plus a passport or internationally-recognised travel document with six months validity after returning to their home country and three blank pages for visa stamps. There are exceptions, e.g. for citizens of Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives and OCI cardholders (Overseas Citizenship of India).
Main types of Travel Visas
Tourism ● Transit ● Medical ● Student ● Entry
There is a ‘Collective Visa’ and a ‘Landing Permit Facility’ for groups; both need to be organized by an Indian-recognised travel agent. Many countries’ nationals can apply for and complete visas online. However, others require a visit to a consulate, embassy or visa centre to verify documentation and give biometrics (fingerprints and facial). For the Tourism Visa for holidaying, visiting friends or a yoga retreat, there are:
Types of Work or Work-related Visas
* After arrival, those staying longer than 180 days must register with a Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) or Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days. At the same time, the Residence Permit is issued, and documentation is required.
The B Visa can be pretty complicated. Holders must be careful about the permitted activities; some examples are:
The visa’s duration depends on the purpose of the trip and can be from six months to five years, but generally, each stay is limited to six months.
The E Visa is the primary employment visa for employees. It is initially issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through an Indian embassy or consulate (Mission) in the home country and subsequently through the Ministry of Home Affairs for the initial renewal. The Employment Visa is sponsored by an employer or legal entity in India which is not necessarily the employer.
Main categories of foreign nationals eligible to apply:
Other categories of workers can be artists, sportspeople or trainers, chefs, teachers, engineers and technicians.
Note: Dependents travelling with the applicant must apply for a Dependent Visa, not the Tourist Visa. Their duration is tied to the Employment Visa.
Conditions for employment through the sponsor
Duration of Work Visa – E Visa for employees employed on contract:
Individuals travelling to India for business purposes or paid employment require one of the two work visas:
The E Visa is the primary work visa for foreign nationals wanting to pay employees. To apply, they require a confirmed job offer and employment contract from a local legal entity, i.e. the employer or company that acts as a sponsor for foreign employees and provides documentation for the Employment Visa. This permits workers to travel, enter and work there during their term of employment.
Documents required with application form for E Visa
This may differ depending on the country they are applying from, the individual’s home country, or the work to be undertaken. Requirements include:
Note: Clarify with the Indian embassy or consulate or Visa Service Centre if any other documents are required by immigration/border control on arrival, for example, proof of address, medical insurance or a return airline ticket.
After receiving the Employment Visa and arriving in India, those staying longer than 180 days must register with a Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) or Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days. At this time, the Residence Permit is issued, and documentation is required. Be aware that late registration can incur a fine of US$30 (€27.50). If there is no FRRO office, the District Superintendents of Police can act as a FRO.
Documents for Registration and Resident Permit
Check to see if the employer is responsible for the registration.
A Residence Permit should be issued at the same time as the registration takes place unless more investigation is needed by the FRO/FRRO.