Employment v. Business Visa

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#1 Jan 12th, 2008, 00:50
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#1
I’ve scoured the forums (as well as other official and non-official websites) and although I have learnt a lot about Employment and Business visas I don’t seem to be able to find all the information I need.

The scenario – a UK national moving to India to start up a business – this would either be an Anglo-Indian partnership or a 100% foreign owned business – a final conclusion hasn’t been reached on this yet but if one or the other made the visa situation easier it may be an influencing factor. In either scenario the foreign owned part would probably be a branch or sub-office of an existing UK company.

I still struggling with the subtleties between a business and employment visa? And which one is the best option to aim for?

Business visa – I have ascertained that this only allows a maximum stay of 6 months on each visit and according to the HCI UK website they are normally issued for a period of 1 or 2 years. I have read in other places that they can be issued for up to 5 years but does this depend on nationality or other circumstances? Although a business visa authorises you to “do business” in India – does it allow you to earn or draw a salary? I read on one link “Business visa valid for ten years with multiple entries is available to foreign businessmen who have set up or intend to set up joint ventures in India.” So maybe that would be an option provided I was able/willing to leave every 6 months?

Employment visa – I get the impression this is the best option but the validity seems shorter? Again I read that it can be extended on a year by year basis up to 5 years but then what? Or is it simply a case that if you are employed or have your own business and can produce all the documentation required a long term visa will be issued? Or renewed without too much uncertainty? I appreciate “simply” may not be quite the word to use for the bureaucracy involved but hopefully you know what I mean.

My main concern is committing time, energy and finance into building a business only to find there is little chance of getting a visa renewed and constantly worrying about it. Surely there must be many people in this scenario.

Regarding residence, again have I understood correctly that provided you have either a business or employment visa, the correct documentation, follow the correct procedures with registering etc then there shouldn’t be any issues in obtaining a residency permit?

I hope that gives enough information but is also not too long-winded as to send you all to sleep! Thank you all and apologies if the information was staring me in the face all along!
#2 Jan 12th, 2008, 11:44
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#2
This is an interesting question for the following reason... both employment and business visas require an indian company to sponsor you. So how does it work if you want to set up the company in the first place?

I think the first thing you should do is read up on the regulation around foreigners (and Im assuming you are not indian at all) owning businesses in India. Basically you will need to partner with an Indian company, as you are not allowed to own a business by yourself. I guess your partner company will be your sponsor for your visa.
The way I understand it the difference between a business and employment visa is to do with where the money is coming from. If you are coming to India to do business, but are continuing to be paid by an overseas company, then you need a business visa. If you intend to be paid in India, by an Indian company, then you need an employment visa. As far as I know employment visas are extendable for ever as long as you remain employed by the company in question.
Regarding residency in India, your visa is enough to let you stay in India. Getting a residency certificate from the FRRO in India is really just registration that you are there, rather than gaining permission to be there. And you only need to do this if you are staying for more than 6 months.

hope this helps some
#3 Jan 12th, 2008, 12:01
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Very nicely reasoned . Sounds good to me.

Check out the 'over six months thing, though: I think employment-visa holders are supposed to register within 14 days of arrival, but this may be relaxed by the visa wording, maybe a rubber stamp. Is this true for you, m_v?
#4 Jan 12th, 2008, 12:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Very nicely reasoned . Sounds good to me.

Check out the 'over six months thing, though: I think employment-visa holders are supposed to register within 14 days of arrival, but this may be relaxed by the visa wording, maybe a rubber stamp. Is this true for you, m_v?
the stamp on my visa (1 year employment visa) reads 'registration required within 14 days of arrival if stay is over 180 days'

Although I didnt register untill a few days after my 14 were up, it didnt cause any undue problems.
#5 Jan 12th, 2008, 15:11
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If laws are the same in regard to Business Visa, which I first had for 12 months in 2000 (after a 6 month Tourist Visa)and it was for exporting handicraft items to some shops in Australia - I was not allowed to earn any Indian rupees. I got a Permanent Resident permit with this Visa, and did not have to go in and out of the country. After that I had a 5 year business Visa, again I could not earn any Indian rupees in my name.(Both times registering with FRRO and obtaining Permanent Resident Permit)I got tired of doing the export thing, a pain in the neck, and became a housewife instead. My current Visa is now x category for 5 years.
From what I understand if you have an Employment Visa, in other words as MV has indicated your Employer is an Indian Company, you have to show proof why you are there and why an Indian cannot do the job you are doing. This has proved a headache for a travel company, first registered overseas but now is converted into an Indian company. All the OS guides could not prove that an Indian couldn't do the job they were doing and could not get Employment visas. This obviously is a very tricky area. Unless your company is an Indian company you won't get an Employment Visa - and the likelihood of putting yourself out of a job could also happen!
I would be interested in an update on what I know re BV - no Indian rupees in your name?? Still valid now?
Every cloud has a silver lining!
#6 Jan 12th, 2008, 22:31
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Employment v. Business Visa

Thanks for the info guys - its helping make things start to become a little clearer!

m_v - no, i'm not at all Indian -apart from in my head and heart - but I don't see that getting me very far with the official paperwork!

Interesting that you mention the requirement to have an Indian partner as I have read and also be told by other sources that this is no longer the case and 100% foreign owned companies are allowed? Can anyone shed any further light on this?

#7 Jan 12th, 2008, 23:08
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It depends on the sector. I think that is true in the tourist sector. To take an absurdly opposite example, it probable isn't in the defence sector.
#8 Jan 13th, 2008, 14:35
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Overseas travel companies registered overseas, can operate here with 'branch' offices. All payment to employees however is coming from overseas country, and is subject to that country's laws, including tax. Once the company registers here and becomes an Indian company it is a different story - it then comes under all Indian laws and income tax, including what I mentioned before - employees must be Indian unless it can be proved that a foreign employee is doing a job Indians can't do. It can become a minefield of problems...
#9 Jan 13th, 2008, 17:39
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Thanks again everyone. Looks like you are all barking up my tree! .... So it would seem that a branch office could be the way to go. If that branch office also has an Indian partner does that complicate matters further with regard to the local employment thing?

Also if I could get a business visa - is this likely to be extended as long as the business was operational?

KP
#10 Jan 13th, 2008, 21:55
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Travel companies with an office in say, Delhi, do employ Indians - but their salaries are paid by Head Office overseas. I should imagine that an Indian partner would be no problem - his salary to be paid by overseas company. To get a business visa you have to show full proof of the business you are running e.g when I was exporting handicraft items,shawls etc. I had business letters from shops, with their official letterhead,importing my stuff, testifying that I was acting as an agent for them. I also had to have supporting accounts as proof of my buying.Your submission must be very solid to get this visa - it can be renewed as long as you are operating your business. For renewal you will again need evidence updated, plus current accounts. I started first with a 12 months visa, then a 5 year visa. Also from time to time, the local FRRO will check up on you to see that you are in fact operating a business legally - in other words you are not making money in Indian currency but your earnings evolve from overseas.
What intrigues me though is that I have heard many tourists are selling stuff and having stalls on the streets in Goa? How is this possible and what sort of Visa would they be having? If they are having a stall they are earning Indian rupees which I understand is illegal?
I don't know the legalities of setting up a 'branch' office - someone else might.But that should also be looked into, and whether permission is needed etc.
#11 Jan 14th, 2008, 00:33
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To get a business visa you need to have at least a letter from an Indian company that wishes to look at a joint venture business. The letterhead is important and from there it should not be difficult to get a business visa but quite possibly only a 1 year visa.

Once you get to India you can separately go through the process of registering a PVT LTD company but you will need two directors. You can have a 100% FDI approved company in Tourism, Education, IT, and Consultancy. I have a friend that has a motorbike Sole Proprietorship so there are some grey areas worth looking in to. You cannot work for anyone on a salary as I understand it but can as a consultant and send them a bill for your services. Now whether working solely as a consultant without any other registrations is permitted is grey but if you were invited to work for a company or companies as a consultant and sent accounts for your services, then......

Your visa is valid more for the the duration of the passport that is if you have six months left on your passport and you want an extension of your business visa, then you will only get 6 months. Having a business registered maintains your business status, whether the business is earning money or not is not necessarily the issue though they may ask to see a balance sheet or tax payments. To get a longer visa than 12 months you generally have to obtain that in your home country showing the proof of your business operations, though I am sure that this is not always the case.
#12 Jan 14th, 2008, 09:39
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I didn't need an Indian company letterhead business letter because I was acting independently.(Rules may have subsequently changed in the last 8 yrs?)I may have come into that 'grey area'. Makes sense though if your business is allied with an Indian company here. Good information, mira4bai4.
#13 Jan 14th, 2008, 14:11
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Yes, thanks everyone for your words of wisdom. It's encouraging to hear that if we get the legalities of the business sorted and set up the visa part will hopefully be workable one way or the other.
#14 Jan 14th, 2008, 15:24
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#14
There is very good information here from people with real experience.

Making the thread a sticky.
#15 Jan 14th, 2008, 15:39
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That's good Nick. Also kapha-pitta if you keep us posted how you went, which visa you end up with etc. it will be very good for updating information for all.
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