Indian immigration law for Expats- Foreigners Rules and Restrictions

Indian immigration law for Expats- Foreigners Rules and Restrictions

Indian immigration law for Expats- Foreigners Rules and Requirements

Relocating to another country temporarily or permanently for work or settlement is not an uncommon occurrence. When it is for the purpose of work, the people shifting are known as expats. Immigration laws of India come into play to ensure complete transparency and security of the nation. However, what do the immigration laws in India covers? Let’s find out!

Immigration Laws in India for Expats

India is a popular destination for expats due to its rich culture, diverse economy, and growing job opportunities. However, immigration laws in India for expats can be complex and subject to frequent changes. In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of immigration law in India for expats, including common requirements and considerations.

1)    Visas

The first step for an expat to legally reside and work in India is obtaining the proper visa. There are several types of visas for expats, including:

  • Employment Visa: This visa is issued to foreigners who are skilled or qualified professionals and fulfil the eligibility criteria. Employment visa can be extended up to a period of 5 years subject to certain conditions like the conduct of the applicant during his stay in India, supporting documents for continued employment, filing of income tax returns as well as no adverse security inputs. 
  • Business Visa: This visa is issued to foreign nationals with assured financial standing and sufficient proof of expertise in the field of intended business who wish to visit India for business purposes. It can be extended up to 5 years subject to certain conditions.
  • Student Visa: This visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to pursue education in India from a recognised and accredited Indian college or university. It is valid for the duration of the course or for the duration of 5 years.
  • Tourist Visa: This visa is issued to foreign nationals who wish to visit India for tourism, holiday, recreation and casual visits to their relatives or friends in India. A tourist visa is not for any business, commercial, research or educational purposes.
  • Entry/”X” Visa: This visa is issued in the union of a spouse/dependents and children of a Person of Indian Origin/foreigner in India on any other visa. This visa is primarily issued to enable the spouse or dependent to visit along with the principal visa holder. The validity of this visa is a maximum of up to 5 years and is co-terminus with the validity of the principal visa holder.
  • Medical Visa: This visa is issued to a foreigner whose sole purpose is to obtain medical treatment in any of the specified or recognised hospitals. Further, if the foreign national wishes to avail of medical treatment under the Indian system of medicine, his/her case would still be considered. Obtaining this visa would require certain documents from the hospital authorities. The initial validity of this visa is 1 year or the period of treatment, whichever is less. 

Other types of visas that you can apply for include research visas, transit visas, conference visas, project visas etc. Further, the types of visas can also be categorised based on the number of entries a person is allowed in a country. This include:

  • Single Entry Visa: Under a single-entry visa, a person is allowed entry only once following which a new visa shall be obtained to visit the same country.
  • Multiple Entry Visa: Under the multiple entry visa, a person is allowed entry multiple times on a single visa. However, the overall visa validity is for a specific period. 

It is important to note that the visit to another country or India by a foreign national should be for the purpose for which the visa is actually obtained. For instance, you cannot seek employment in India based on a tourist visa. Further, to obtain a visa, expats must submit an application along with supporting documents, such as a passport, proof of employment or education, proof of financial support etc. The application process can take several weeks, so it is important to apply well in advance of the intended travel date.

2)    Registration

Another important aspect of immigration law for expats in India is registration requirements. Once an expat has obtained a visa, they must register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival in India. This registration is mandatory for all foreigners staying in India for more than 180 days. Expats must provide their personal details, visa details, and biometric information during registration.

3)    Residence Permit

Expats who wish to stay in India for an extended period must obtain a residence permit. This permit is issued by the FRRO. To obtain a residence permit, expats must submit an application along with supporting documents, such as proof of employment or education, proof of financial support, and a police clearance certificate. The application process again can take several weeks to several months, so it is important to apply well in advance.

4)    Taxation

Expats who work in India are subject to Indian taxation laws. Expat taxation in India is one of the important aspects of any expat arrangement. They are required to obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN) from the Indian tax authorities and pay income tax on their earnings. Whether the income of expats will be taxable in India or not depends upon the salary structure of expats and their residential status as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Further, the tax rate varies depending on the income level and can be up to 30% plus any surcharge and cess. Expats must also file their income tax return within the due date.

In a Nutshell

Expats who wish to live and work in India must obtain the proper visa, register with the FRRO, and obtain a residence and work permit if necessary. Further, they also need to comply with the provisions of the income tax law to avoid any regulatory hurdles. India offers diverse working opportunities and unlimited potential for career growth. With proper planning and preparation, expats can enjoy a successful and fulfilling experience living and working in India.

However, before getting deputed to a new country, it is important to have an understanding of their local laws. For expats, taxation laws are of utmost importance. Failing to understand the tax intricacies might invite double taxation on the same income for expats. Tax laws of the home country, tax laws of the country of deputation and DTAA entered into between them – all three interplays to determine the taxability of expat’s income. Further, the agreement between the entity in the home country and in the foreign country also plays an important role as it lays down the entire arrangement. Appropriate legal and tax advisory should be availed of to prevent any unwanted legal complications. In case you need any assistance in relation to immigration laws in India or expat taxation in India, feel free to contact the ASC Group.


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