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India – Preparing for an Employment Visa Extension

The Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) which is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) has been authorized by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to carry out registration and visa extension formalities for foreign nationals who are in India on long term visas.

An application for an employment visa extension application may be submitted within a window of fifteen (15) to sixty (60) days prior to the expiry of the visa.  It is possible to get an extension of the employment visa in India for an additional 12-month period enabling the individual to remain in India for up to a cumulative five years from the date of issue of the initial visa. The visa extension procedure and processing time differ in every jurisdiction within India.

In an attempt to ease visa related formalities for foreign nationals in India, the BoIlaunched ‘e-Services’ in February 2018. Through this effort, in-country registration and visa extension formalities have now been made an online procedure thus eliminating the need for foreign nationals to visit the FRRO/FRO in person. Foreign nationals may be required to visit the FRRO/FRO for an interview only if asked to do so. All messages regarding the status of the application are sent to the foreign national directly via email or through a text message on their registered Indian cell phone number. Once the application has been approved, the Registration Certificate or Stay Visa (evidencing extension of the visa) is emailed to the foreign national.The status is also be uploaded on the FRRO’s e-services portal.

It is important to note that the foreign national must remain in India from the time the application is submitted until the time the service has been granted. Departure from India while the extension application is under process results in the lapse of the extension application. If the individual wishes to leave the country while the extension application is under process and the current visa has expired, an Exit Permit/Visa must be procured from the FRRO/FROand the foreign national will need a new visa to return to India.

Sandhya Maggidi

OCI Explained – What are the rights and privileges granted?

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) program is granted to foreign nationals of Indian origin to live and work in India.This program is not for individuals who are from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The following individuals qualify for registration as an OCI[1]

  • A person who at any time held an Indian passport; or
  • A person whose either parent or grandparents or great grandparents was born in and was a permanent resident of India, provided neither was at any time a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or any other country that may be specified by the Government from time to time; or
  • A person of foreign origin who is a spouse of a citizen of India/OCI cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a minimum period of two years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently issued a notification to all the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) or Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) stating that an OCI application can only be submitted in India once a foreign national has resided in India for a continuous period of six (6) months prior to submitting the application. This means an uninterrupted stay in India for an entire period of six (6) months. It is important to note that this is applicable only to OCI applications submitted in India.

Benefits of an OCI cardholder

  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose and a lifelong visa to visit and live in India. If the OCI card holder wishes to undertake research work in India, special permission to undertake such work must be granted by the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned. OCI cardholders are not entitled to undertake Missionary, Mountaineering and Journalism activities without prior permission of the Indian government. If the individual wishes to undertake such activities, prior permission from the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned is required;
  • Exempt from in-country FRRO/FRO registration requirements for any length of stay in India;
  • Receives equal rights with non-resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic and educational fields except in acquiring agricultural land or plantation properties;
  • Parity with NRIs with regard to pursuing professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants;
  • Parity with NRIs in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.

The OCI program is not a replacement for dual citizenship but affords some rights to eligible individuals with an Indian heritage who are now citizens of different countries and also other persons of non-Indian origin/heritage provided they fulfill certain conditions.

Rajesh Khandekar (accessed on December 20, 2019)

Getting an Internship in India

In an attempt to keep up with the ever-growing business needs and trends, the Government of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs has further liberalised and digitized its immigration policies and systems. One such liberalisation effect is evidenced in the changes surrounding visas granted to foreign nationals who wish to intern in India.

Foreign nationals intending to pursue an internship with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), company or educational institution in India are now granted a Student Visa (S-6 visa). India previously had a separate category of visas to allow foreign nationals wo intern in India – An Intern Visa, that has now been done away with.

The foreign intern must draw a minimum salary of US$12,000 a year during the internship. There are no minimum salary requirements for internships with Indian educational institutions or NGOs.

Graduates or post-graduates are eligible to intern in India under an S-6 visa. It is important to note that the internship start date in India must be within a period of one yearfromthe completion of graduation or post-graduation.

This visa will not be issued for internships in sectors such asdefence, telecom, space technologies, construction or strategic infrastructure projects, mining, civil aviation, petroleum and natural gas exploration, private security agencies, human rights, nuclear energy, environmental organisations and dam construction/management.

The visa will be granted to a maximum of fifty (50)applicants a year for each Indian mission or post. This limit will be one hundred (100) a year for countries where the population of people of Indian origin is more than one million.This visa is issue for a period of one year and cannot be extended.

Ashwina Pinto