Across the globe, companies are changing how they do business. Between a global worker shortage, lasting changes to remote and hybrid workplaces, and more, companies have started getting creative. If you own a business, you're no longer limited to the labor pool in your area thanks to technology enabling global mobility. We recommend tapping into talent from all over the world, including India, or opening an office there.
India has a large workforce, with 41.6% of the country participating. The country has a strong presence in technology, aviation, biotech, and other industries, giving many of its workers experience that could be valuable to your company. However, India’s complex process for getting a work visa could deter people from relocating there or hiring workers from India.
This guide outlines the process of getting an Indian work visa and the qualifications needed to do so.
India work permit classifications
Foreigners who want to stay in India may need a work visa to authorize their stay. The country has seen an average of 5 to 6 million immigrants per year from 2005 to 2015. Immigration in India is typically more difficult than in other countries. Visas are typically issued to highly-skilled professionals but not to clerical workers and administrative workers whose positions could be filled by Indian workers.
There are three classifications available for people who want an Indian work visa.
An Indian business visa may be granted to people who want to establish a business or industry within India. It may also apply to those who want to come to India to buy and sell industrial or commercial products, recruit new employees, provide business consulting, or monitor and meet with Indian suppliers or businesses. Other special circumstances may warrant a business visa, such as:
- Participating in cultural events
- Athletes participating in various Indian leagues
- Those participating in the Global Initiative for Academic Networks
- People coming to India for training programs
- Partners or directors in businesses with Indian locations
- Flight crew members
We have seen Indian business visas valid for as little as six months to as many as five years. However, this visa may be extended to ten years for people from the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, or South Africa. A business visa only grants permission to stay in the country for 180 days.
We recommend applying for a business visa if you’re planning on opening a location in the country or spending time there for significant recruiting purposes. To qualify, you need to be in good financial standing and in compliance with your local tax rules and regulations.
India’s immigration rules also allow people to enter the country with an employment visa. We recommend this option for highly skilled professionals and those who work in a multinational company who are relocating to the Indian branch.
Jobs for which Indian workers may be available do not qualify for employment visas. This type of visa is often limited to people with specific technical skills or management-level workers. You must be sponsored by a registered company in India, and you have to make more than $25,000 U.S. dollars per year.
Project managers working in the steel and electricity sectors may be eligible for a project visa. This type of visa is available on a per-project basis and is valid for a year or for the project duration. We would not advise applying for a project visa and using it to work on multiple projects since this would violate the per-project nature.
Like employment visas, project visas are only available to highly skilled workers in positions that Indian nationals are not available to fill.
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India visa requirements
If we have convinced you to pack up and relocate to India, here is what you’ll need for your visa. The first step is to fill out an India visa application. You will need a valid passport, two passport-sized photos, a copy of your passport’s first two pages, a valid employment contract and letter from your company that details the nature of your job and how long you’ll be in the country, a resume, copies of your diplomas and/or credentials, and tax documents.
Since you must be sponsored by a company with a presence in India, you also need a copy of your company’s registration certificate within India. If you work for a multinational company, you may need a copy of the registration certificates for the Indian branch office.
For a work permit in India, you need to apply online and then print your application and submit a paper copy at your nearest Indian consulate. Next, you would submit the required forms and documentation at an Indian application center or Indian mission.
Once you’ve been approved, you will receive a passport and visa. You would collect them from the visa application center, the Indian mission, or through the mail. Processing takes a minimum of six weeks. If you’re applying for a work visa, do it as far ahead of time as you can. You may be able to expedite the process, but we recommend starting early.
The costs to apply for a work visa in India vary depending on which country you’re from and how long you plan on working in the country. A six-month visa ranges from $102.90 - $1,022.90 which includes consular fees and various service fees. A 12-month visa ranges from $142.90 - $1,062.90 including consular fees and service fees.
On average, it costs about $150 - $250 to apply for a six-month visa and $200 - $250 to apply for a 12-month visa, but some countries, including the United Kingdom and Israel, have a much higher application fee. India does not currently issue work visas to Pakistan-based workers.
Although the process for getting a work permit in India can be tricky, you can partner with Skuad to sponsor work permits in India. We would serve as the employer of record, speeding up the process and saving you from having to set up shop in the country. Lop
Eligibility for an India work visa
India’s visa requirements are strict, and rules are in place that reduce the chances of Indian workers losing out on jobs to foreigners. Immigration is considered desirable for those people who are highly skilled and can contribute to the country. Here are some common jobs for which workers become eligible for employment visas:
- Civil engineer
- University educator
The criteria for defining skilled workers varies among nations. In India, a skilled worker cannot be someone filling an administrative or clerical role. If you have more than two years of work experience in your field or are exceptionally skilled, you likely qualify for an employment visa.
India work visas aren’t limited to the professions listed above, but you’re more likely to be approved if your employer can demonstrate your unique knowledge and skills. India employment visas are often approved for management-level workers overseeing Indian branch offices or projects within the company. You would need to submit a resume or CV with your visa application.
If you need a short-term visa like a business visa, you may qualify for an eVisa, which you can apply for online. For this type of visa, you would apply and upload your required documents to a website, and you don’t have to submit paper copies to the mission or the government. You do need to submit passport-formatted photos meaning that they have to be within a certain size, and they have to be front-facing.
An eBusiness visa is only valid for 90 days, so you can’t use it for long-term employment. This type of visa is a good option if you’re planning on recruiting within India or you want to meet with clients and vendors in the area. Your visa needs to be approved before you can travel to India, so start the process at least a month before you leave.
Hiring employees and contractors from India
If you’re interested in employing talent in India for your remote team, you may need to get them a work visa. You would need to set up an office in India or choose a locally-based partner to help you comply with various labor laws, tax codes, and visa requirements.
If your India-based team members needed a work visa, the process to get one would be determined based on your country’s rules and regulations. Some countries, like Canada, make it easier for foreign nationals to get a visa. You could go through the process on your own. Or you could partner with an employer of record such as Skuad to simplify the process.
Learn more about Skuad
Skuad is a global employment and payroll platform, enabling companies like yours to nail expat hiring, employing and paying exceptional talent anywhere in the world, seamlessly and compliantly. Our vision is to elevate lives by democratizing talent and opportunities globally.
Our platform lets you recruit, hire, onboard, and pay remote workers based in over 160 countries, including India. If you’re ready to round out your team, request a demo today.