India: Gradual Changes In In-Country Procedures For Foreign Nationals In India

Last Updated: 22 October 2015
Article by Pushpalatha Iyer

The Government of India is slowly and progressively tightening the regulations making the procedures more efficient for foreign nationals working in India. All foreign nationals who enter India on an employment visa need to report to/register with the local Foreigners  (Regional) Registration Offices (FRRO/FRO)  within 14 days of their in India, unless there is specific endorsement on their Indian visas to the contrary. 

For the purpose of these registrations, an application had to be made at the FRRO/FRO  that would issue a FRRO booklet  to the foreign national.  A few years ago, in an effort to standardize procedures, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) introduced the online form filing system initially  and then followed it up with the mandatory uploading of the passport and visa and photograph of the applicants. Slowly the requirements for the documents upload expanded and now there is an entire set of documents for each of the procedures at the FRRO that have to be uploaded at the time of the filling of the online form for each type. Now in certain cases there are as many as eight uploads depending on the type of procedure and the type of visa.  

This basic documentation requirement is the same in the case of all registration posts in India. Despite this, each FRRO/FRO has its own separate list of documents and separate procedural requirements It is only recently that the last of these posts have gone electronic. 

The online application forms for employment visa registration and extension now ask for the EPFO ID and the Establishment ID of the employee. Even though tilling of his information is not mandatory right now, it is anticipate that very soon it will become compulsory for the employers to fill these details.  

The employers have to submit proof of local presence in the region in which the foreign national is employed, in case company is incorporated at any other place, a copy of documents towards proof of registration of the local office i.e. copy of Registration under The   Shops and Establishments Act or any local Government body has to be provided.

The Foreign nationals also come under the purview of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), which aims a stricter compliance of provident fund regulations for the foreign nationals working in India in India. The EPFO will coordinate with the FRRO/FRO to keep track of the monthly returns filed by Indian employers and take suitable action in the event of non-compliance. 

In view of this the FRROs have now made mandatory the Provident fund report of the foreign nationals working in India when the foreign national seeks visa extension.  If the organisation employing the foreign national has less than 20 employees, then is not covered under the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, and a letter specifying non coverage by the EPFO has to be issued by the employer organisation. 

With regards to the Government visa fees payable by the foreign national at the time of visa extension, some posts accept cash payment at the special counter set up for this purpose, some accept demand drafts, credit and debit cards (Visa and MasterCard only). Some FRRO posts now insist on online payment to be made   payable at the time of or prior to the in person visit at the FRRO/FRO. Even though there are no charges for registration, Gurgaon FRO charges a fee of INR 100 that has to be paid prior to the FRO visit and it has to be paid online. 

The tax documentation asked for visa extensions of foreign are quite extensive but not completely comprehensive. The employer must ensure the deduction of tax at source (TDS) from the salary of the employee and must provide all the relevant documents in proof of this including the month wise TDS challans, Form 16A applicable for income other than salary, Form 16 for all employees, Income tax Return (ITR) and form 26AS. Recently some posts have been asking for Form !@BA (for perquisites or benefits derived from a job like education facility to employee's children, interest free loan, medical facility, credit card, furnished or unfurnished house without rent etc.). this form is additional to From 16A. 

For establishments covered under the Factories Act, there is a form 27 which needs to be completed by the employer that is now being asked at the FROs for the visa extensions of foreign nationals. The incidence of these specific requirements being on the rise, it is anticipated that compliance of tax and social security regulations are being considered of prime importance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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