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INDIA: Foreign nationals seeking to undertake research activities at Indian universities may apply for a research visa

Among other things, according to a set of FAQs released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, foreign nationals seeking to undertake research activities at Indian universities may apply for a research visa.

Research visas

According to a set of FAQs released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, foreign nationals seeking to undertake research activities at Indian universities may apply for a research visa. Research visas can be obtained at Indian consular offices abroad and are generally issued for a maximum period of three years or for the duration of the research project, whichever is less. Research visas may be extended for up to two years at a local Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). In exceptional cases, a one-time, additional six-month extension may be granted.

Students who have completed a three-year regular degree course or post-graduate course in India may change their visa status and obtain a research visa from the local FRRO or FRO. Persons registered as Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) must obtain special permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs if they wish to undertake research activities in India.

Tourist visas-on-arrival

According to an announcement by the Indian Consulate in Dubai, as of January 1, 2011, nationals of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam who seek to visit India as tourists will be eligible to obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata Airports only. This single-entry visa allows such foreign nationals to remain in the country for up to 30 days as long as their activities are confined to tourism. This privilege was granted in January 2010 to nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Project visas

The Indian government issued a new project ("P") visa as described in the new FAQs issued in December 2010. This visa applies only to foreign nationals seeking to work in the power or steel sectors. Selected important points from the FAQs include:

  • The number of foreign workers who may work on a project visa in any unit in these industries is restricted to numeric limits, or caps. The cap varies depending on the unit's activities and production capacity. The cap in the power sector varies within a range from 50 to 281 individuals while in the steel sector it varies from 5% of the work force, or 150 individuals, to 10% of the work force, or 300 individuals, again depending on the capacity of the project and whether it is a green field project or a brown field project. If there are needs that may necessitate going beyond these numeric caps, the Indian consular posts will forward such applications to the Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment, which will decide them on a case-by-case basis.
  • The total manpower requirement must be determined at the stage of conceptualization of the project. The deployment of foreign nationals to work on ongoing projects will be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment. The FAQs also include a special visa application form that must be used when applying for a project visas.
  • The visa will be granted with specific notations enabling the individual to work only on the project for which the visa was granted. Project visas are valid for one year, or for the duration of the project, whichever is less. Also, these multiple entry visas cannot be extended without the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs. A person who has been granted a project visa cannot be employed by the company that executed the project for a period of two years from the date of commissioning of the project. During this two-year period, if this individual needs to visit India to attend to emergency maintenance or other urgent issues, he or she will be granted a non-extendable business visa.

Compliance with minimum salary requirements

In 2010, the Indian government had introduced a provision that required all employers to pay foreign national employees a minimum annual salary of US$ 25,000. According to new guidelines issued by the Indian government in December 2010, any perquisites like housing, telephone, transportation, or entertainment, which are received in kind, should not be included when computing the salary of the individual. Persons who are already employed for a salary below US$ 25,000 are given an opportunity to extend their visa for a period of three months, during which time they must provide documentary evidence to show that they will receive an annual salary of US$ 25,000 going forward. These Guidelines also describe how foreign nationals in the entertainment industry should comply with the minimum salary requirements.

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