May 31, 2010

The Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi has issued an announcement that gives preferential treatment to Information Technology (IT) and IT enabled services (ITes) industries wishing to bring foreign nationals to India on employment visas.

What’s New? 

There have been huge changes to Indian immigration law and the application of Indian immigration law over the last several months.  This latest announcement bucks the trend in that it brings good news for employers of foreign nationals – previous changes have all moved towards tightening immigration regulations in India.

Among the previous changes announced was the introduction of a quota system, in July and October 2009, which limited the issuance of employment visas to a maximum of 1% of the total persons employed on a project, within an overall limit of 20 employment visa holders.  The overall limit was subsequently increased, in December 2009, to 40 for employers in the Steel and Power Industry.

The new announcement brings the following benefits for IT and ITes industries:

  1. No quota, or ceiling on employment visa applications for such companies;
  2. Applications for employment visas for such companies will not be subject to approval from New Delhi, but can be issued without delay by India’s diplomatic posts around the world;
  3. Employment visas for such companies can be issued for an initial period of up to three years, and then extended for a further two years in India, up to a maximum of five years’ validity in total.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has emphasized that the need for registration with the Foreigners’ (Regional) Registration Office, or F(R)RO in the employee’s area of residence in India is unchanged – registration must be carried out within 14 days of arrival for all foreign nationals holding visas valid for longer than 180 days.  This requirement will continue to be noted on the visa stickers. 

Who Qualifies?

The sponsoring Indian entity:

  • Must declare that they are either an IT or ITeS company (under the broadly accepted definition of IT and ITeS. (The Ministry of Home Affairs has provided some examples.  Pro-Link GLOBAL is happy to offer further consultation) AND
  • Must confirm that they are an Export Oriented Unit (EOU), a Software Technology Parks of India Unit (STPI), an IT Unit delivering services from an Special Economic Zone (SEZ) (IT SEZ or an IT unit in an Multi-Product SEZ), AND 

The foreign national employee being sponsored for the employment visa:

  • Must earn an annual salary exceeding USD 25,000 AND
  • Must not be a national of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

  • If your company qualifies under the new criteria, your employees will benefit.  Your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist will be happy to offer you further, specific advice.
  • Note that the new regulations must be implemented by the Indian diplomatic posts, or Embassies and Consulates, throughout the world.  As always with any new change, we do expect some delays and some confusion while the diplomatic posts get to grips with the new recommendations.  Pro-Link GLOBAL will  be working directly with the diplomatic posts as well as with our clients to minimize any confusion or miscommunication.

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.