India: Government Allows Intracompany Changes of Employment
Foreign workers can change employers within the same corporate family, the Indian government has announced. Bangalore and Chennai are piloting an online foreign registration system, and Bangalore will now accept visa extension applications up to 60 days in advance – four weeks earlier than under prior procedures.
Changes of Employer Within the Same Corporate Family
Foreign nationals working in India with an employment visa may change employers without having to leave the country and reenter with a new visa, as long as the new employer is within the same corporate family.
To qualify for visa portability, the foreign national must be moving between a holding company and one of its subsidiaries or between two subsidiaries of the same registered holding company. The holding company must control the membership of the subsidiary’s board of directors or more than half of its equity shares in capital, or the subsidiary and the holding company must both be subsidiaries of the same parent entity.
A foreign national must apply to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for approval of the change. The application must be supported by extensive documentation of the relationship between the initial employer and the proposed second employer. The applicant must also demonstrate that the initial employer does not object to the change and that the change is justified by the business needs of both the initial and proposed second employer.
The MHA will review change of employer applications much like a new employment visa application. If a change is approved, the foreign national will remain subject to the same visa conditions and the original five-year maximum period of stay.
A foreign national may only change employers once during the validity of his or her original employment visa.
Online Registration Pilot Begins in Bangalore and Chennai
Foreigners’ Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) in Bangalore and Chennai have begun piloting an online registration process that was first implemented in Mumbai in November. Under the pilot, foreign nationals complete and print an online application at least one day before visiting the FRRO to register rather than complete manual forms at the FRRO at the time of their registration.
The Bangalore and Chennai FRROs will continue to accept paper forms during the pilot, but the online process is expected to be finalized and become mandatory in the coming weeks, as Indian authorities continue to network the country’s overseas missions and in-country immigration offices for greater efficiency and control.
Bangalore Accepts Earlier Visa Extension Applications
The Bangalore FRRO now permits foreign nationals within its jurisdiction to file visa and residence permit extensions up to 60 days before expiration. Previously, Bangalore required extensions be filed within 15 days of expiration, with limited exceptions for those who had last-minute travel plans within 30 days of visa expiration.
Bangalore Requires Police Certificates for Certain Residence Permit Extensions
The Bangalore FRRO now requires foreign nationals to provide a police clearance certificate if they are applying to extend a residence permit beyond the time communicated to the FRRO at initial registration. The Bangalore FRRO typically grants residence permits valid for the length of a foreign national’s assignment and not the visa, necessitating an extension if the assignment runs longer than expected. Previously, these applications did not require police clearance certificates.
We worked closely with Fragomen Immigration Services India (Pvt) Limited (“Fragomen-India”) to prepare this alert. It is provided for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work or send an email to IndiaQueries_NewPolicy@fragomen.com.