December 10, 2013
Authorities in several cities throughout India have recently begun to request proof of Labor Market Testing (LMT) during a foreign worker’s registration appointment at their local Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO). This new requirement is part of India’s continued implementation of their Immigration, Visa, and Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT) system that seeks to more closely monitor, track, and register foreign nationals working and residing in India.
Not only does this change add to the potential document requirements for the FRRO registration process itself in the affected cities, but will also increase the need for thorough assignment and travel planning, as well as timely document gathering.
The FRRO Offices in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Bangalore have begun requesting proof from foreign employees during the FRRO registration process that their Indian employers have performed documented labor market testing (LMT). This documentation must demonstrate that the Indian company made efforts to recruit employees from the local labor market before bringing in foreign labor; however, the FRRO authorities have not explicitly confirmed exactly what constitutes acceptable recruitment efforts. At this time, sources have indicated that the authorities are accepting a copy of the job advertisement posted in the local newspaper, as well as an original letter from the Indian company detailing why the local candidates were not suitable for the position.
It should be noted that currently the authorities are not consistently requesting LMT documentation with every FRRO registration, especially for foreign employees being sent to India as Intra-Company Transfers (ICT). However, it is strongly advised that employers in the affected cities be prepared with the necessary LMT documentation for non-ICT foreign workers before the employee enters India in order to avoid any potential delays for their employee’s registration process.
This situation is further complicated by the fact that LMT documentation is not required for an Indian Employment (E) Visa application; in other words, a foreign national could be issued an Employment Visa without the LMT occurring at all, and then not be able to register or apply for their residence permit at the FRRO once they have already arrived in India to begin their assignment. Thus, the potential for delays will arise if Indian companies are not prepared with the LMT documentation ahead of the employee’s arrival in India and subsequent FRRO registration.
This change affects both foreign nationals undergoing their initial FRRO registration and foreign nationals renewing their work and residence permits.
ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS
As Indian authorities continue to implement various portions of the new IVFRT system, employers should remain aware of the many changes to rules, regulations, and document requirements, as well as when the specific cities adopt each change.
Employers, especially those hiring foreign workers on a non-ICT basis, need to be mindful that FRRO authorities have begun to require LMT documentation. Although this practice remains fairly discretionary, employers should be prepared with the necessary documentation before their foreign employee arrives in India to avoid any delays to the employee’s FRRO registration process.
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