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.

The different types of Visas and Work Permits for India

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:

  1. A 30-day single entry visa or
  2. A one-year or five years visa: For multiple entries for trips of 90 days or 180 days, depending on the nationality.

Types of Work or Work-related Visas

  1. Business or B Visa
  2. Employment or E Visa*

* 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:

  • Investigating the potential or setting up a business or industrial venture
  • To buy or sell products
  • For recruitment purposes
  • To visit local suppliers to place orders or retain services

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:

  • Employees are offered a job and employment contract with a salary from an Indian registered company or multi-national registered company with a branch office in India (E1)
  • Persons who are travelling to work with an NGO (Non-government Organization) doing volunteer work can apply for the E Visa, labelled ‘To Work with NGO’ (E3)
  • Contracted consultants are paid a remuneration (E1)
  • Self-employed professionals providing skilled services, e.g. medical, legal, technical, engineering, and accounting (permitted under the law) as independent consultants (E1)
  • Senior managers or specialists recruited for employment with a local or foreign-registered company whose skills are required to work on or to complete a project (E4)
  • Transferred employees bringing skills to an Indian-registered company from a foreign company abroad, to whom they pay a fee (E2)

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

  • They are professional, highly skilled, and qualified foreigners with a job offer and employment contract with a company registered in India as a technical expert, top-level executive or senior manager.
  • The employing and sponsoring company is registered in India or a foreign entity involved with a major project in India.
  • In any market sector, employees are offered a salary of more than US$25,000, around INR 1.9 million (€23,000). Exceptions include chefs and teachers.
  • The application is made in the home country or country of residence, provided the employee has been domiciled there for more than two years.
  • The required visa paperwork listed on the application form has been verified
  • Sponsoring employer or entity is visible on the visa sticker
  • Qualified Indian workers cannot fill the position
  • The type of work is not general office work, e.g. secretarial or clerical
  • The sponsoring company or employer is responsible for the conduct of the employee for the duration of the contract

Duration of Work Visa – E Visa for employees employed on contract:

  • For highly skilled and qualified professionals in the IT sector or IT software sector, the visa is granted for the term of employment (contract), or three years whichever is the shortest. Allowing multiple entries. Can be renewed annually
  • General E-Visa is issued for up to two years or the length of the employment contract, whichever is the shortest. Allows for multiple entries and is then renewed on a year-by-year basis

How to apply for Visas and Work Permits for India?

Individuals travelling to India for business purposes or paid employment require one of the two work visas:

  1. The Business Visa – B Visa
  2. The Employment Visa – E Visa

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.

The process:

  • Have all documentation for reference when completing the application form, including passport
  • Downloading and complete the application form online.
  1. It cannot be printed out and handwritten.
  2. It cannot be illegible, incomplete or have errors. All questions must be answered, and N/A is not acceptable. Then, names must be signed as indicated as they appear on the passport. When printing out after completion, do so single-sided.
  3. Ensure that all details, including the barcode, are included when printing.
  4. The address in India must be in full, i.e. rental or hotel.
  • Gather all documents together that need to be submitted with the printed application form
  • Paperwork should be completed in English, including any bank statements
  • Make an appointment with the local Indian embassy/consulate to apply. This may be done online in most cases
  • The process takes between 4 – 5 days

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:

  • Proof of residency in home country or place of residency
  • A valid passport and photocopy of the main page
  • Two passport-style photographs for the application form (one for each page). Note: four photos are required when registering in India
  • Employment contract (original) in English, signed and stamped by the employer with relevant conditions of employment.
  • Latest curriculum vitae in English
  • Copies of qualifications. Proof of degree, diploma, technical certificates etc.
  • Evidence of previous professional experience and any letters of recommendation
  • ‘Appointment Letter’ from the employer showing the salary, name of the company, duration of employment and job title
  • A photocopy of the employing company’s registration with Articles and Memorandum of Association
  • Employer’s Tax Liability letter in case of non-payment of taxes and proving no breach of employing foreigners quota
  • Justification Letter that the employee is a professional, highly qualified for the position either as a technical expert, senior or managerial executive and that the skills cannot be found in India

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 completed registration form to be signed in front of an officer (three copies) 
  • Four photographs along with passport guidelines
  • Valid passport with the Employment (E) Visa, plus three copies of the main bio page (with photo) and three copies of the page showing the valid E visa
  • Proof of address. Rental agreement or utility bill with a confirmation letter from the landlord (three copies) or similar for hotel accommodation. Changes have to be notified to the FRO/FRRO
  • Fee of INR 100 (€1.20, US$1.31)
  • Contract of employment (three copies) from employer containing details of salary, duration, location, conditions and benefits and/or an ‘Appointment Letter’ (three documents)
  • Letter from employer requesting the registration, on note-headed paper, signed by an appropriate company officer
  • Letter of undertaking that the employee accepts the employment contract (three copies)
  • Three photocopies of the Permanent Account Number (PAN) Card, issued by the Income Tax Department, have a unique 10-digit number. If not yet received, three copies of the application form sent for the PAN. The employer applies for this.

A Residence Permit should be issued at the same time as the registration takes place unless more investigation is needed by the FRO/FRRO.


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