October 6, 2010

Pro-Link GLOBAL clients and Global Brief readers will know that regulations around employment visas in India have changed multiple times in recent months.  The Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi has just issued a new “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) sheet (available here) which sets out the regulations again with a significant change: the removal of the 1% quota, or cap, on the employment of foreign workers and the introduction of a minimum salary for all sectors.

What Was The Cap? 

A cap on numbers of skilled/highly skilled foreign nationals, at 1% of the total workforce up to a maximum of 20 foreign nationals, was originally introduced in July and October 2009.  In June 2010, Pro-Link GLOBAL was informed that it had been removed altogether – however, in August 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it had been reinstated, but with an exception for small companies(less than 5 employees). 

At the end of May 2010the cap was removed for employers in Information Technology (IT) or Information Technology enabled services (ITes) provided certain conditions were met (see our Global Brief on the subject here). 

What’s Changed? 

The new FAQ issued this week by the Ministry of Home Affairs removes the cap completely for all sectors.  However, a new minimum salary level of $25,000USD is introduced.  Previously, this salary requirement was in place for employers in Information Technology (IT) or Information technology enabled services (ITes), who benefitted from a waiver of the quota requirement.

The minimum salary level now applies to all jobs in all sectors apart from (a) ethnic cooks, (b) language teachers (other than English language teachers)/translators and (c) staff working for Embassies/High Commissions in India.  All applications for employment visas where salary is lower than $25,000USD per annum will be rejected by the Embassy/High Commission without referral to the Ministry of Labor and Employment in New Delhi. 

Project Visas 

The Indian government has plans in the pipeline to introduce a new category of visa for project work.  It is likely that the project visas will be subject to the 1% quota system and that these visas will be issued with limited validity – i.e. for the duration of the project only.  So far, further details have not been released, but of course Pro-Link GLOBAL is monitoring the situation closely and will keep our clients informed.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

Note that the limit on foreign nationals of 1% of the total workforce up to a maximum of 20 foreign nationals has been removed for all companies in all sectors.

Note that a minimum salary level of $25000USD per annum has been introduced. 

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG|KGNM correspondent office in India to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.