Inroads into India

One of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is rising again as a focus for global investors. Mahrukh Umrigar, head of global mobility at Khaitan Legal Associates, looks at India’s rising popularity from an immigration compliance perspective.

Mahrukh Umrigar
One of the fastest growing economies in the world – outperforming even China with the latest government data showing around 7.3 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2015 – India is rising again as a focus for global investors. With encouraging economic indicators across multiple sectors, India’s growth trajectory looks set.The past decade has seen India develop as a hotspot, both for foreign businesses and mobile workers. The flow of foreign nationals into the Indian labour market means mobility remains high on the agenda for multinationals and their HR teams. Access to a rapidly developing economy seems to be the principal incentive for foreign nationals taking up skilled posts on the Indian sub-continent. Having relevant work experience in India is proving to offer a substantial boost to their resumes.India’s first major influx of foreign nationals was from South-East Asia, USA, continental Europe – namely France, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain – followed closely by Eastern Europe. However, recent years have also shown a rise in foreign personnel coming from locations such as Russia and the African continent.In the past, the IT (information technology) and the ITES (information technology-enabled service) sectors have attracted foreign personnel to India. However, in a role reversal, these sectors are now some of the largest exporting Indian talent oversees. Other sectors in India seeing growth in hiring foreign personnel are retail, hospitality, manufacturing, analytics, infrastructure and pharma to name a few. Together, these factors have given rise over the past decade to an expat boom across various cities in India.While several multinationals have set up shop in major metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru (previously known as Bangalore), others have sought locations in Tier 2 cities like Pune, Ahmedabad, Gurugram (previously known as Gurgaon) and Noida. This shift to Tier 2 cities is predominantly due to the cost implications expensive metros have for multinational organisations.Whether relocating to Tier 1 or 2 cities, it is essential for multinationals and their HR teams to ensure that all foreign personnel comply with the rules and regulations of Indian immigration, both prior to their arrival as well as post-arrival in India. The preliminary objective is to ensure the foreign national intending to visit India does so on the correct category of visa.While Indian immigration laws might not always keep up with the needs of the country’s swiftly expanding economy, Indian immigration officials are streamlining processes and procedures to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals with greater ease and efficiency.However, it can still be confusing to work out whether a business or an employment visa is needed. This can only be ascertained by looking at the scope of work the individual intends to undertake while in India.Post-arrival formalities such as registration with the local FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office) for people on employment visas are equally important. These must be completed within 14 days of arrival in India.As with all visa applications, the process and procedures can be very time consuming. Some visa applications may take longer to process than others. To avoid delays to the assignment, HR teams must collate and prepare all the requisite forms and documentation well in advance of the intended assignment start date.While the Indian immigration regime may take longer to evolve than anticipated, the demand for India as a destination for foreign nationals – be it for tourism, business or employment – is ever increasing. The flow of foreign nationals is set to continue well into the next decade, which means more people can experience what the government in its latest tourism campaign hails as Incredible India! Disclaimer: This article has been written for the general interests of our readers. It is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for legal advice. We accept no legal liability for any errors or omissions.

APAC global mobility magazine
Read more about India and the Asia-Pacific region in our APAC Summer 2016 digital magazine.
For more Relocate Global news and features about global mobility in the Asia Pacific region, see our Asia and India sections.

This article was first published on 18 May 2016

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