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Delhi: Visa Information for Expats

Are you planning on relocating to Delhi? For many expats, moving to Delhi means dealing with lots of unknowns — preparation is key! Using our guide to Delhi — which includes information on visas, transportation, and healthcare — you’re on the right track to making the best out of your move to Delhi.
Once you've sorted out all paperwork, your Indian adventure can begin.

Applying for a Visa — No Problem for the Skilled Expat

You cannot move to Delhi without a valid visa for India. For most expats, getting a visa is a purely formal matter, as no restrictions are currently in place on skilled immigration, except for Pakistani or Bangladeshi nationals.

Your first point of contact when applying for a visa should be your nearest Indian embassy or consulate. Many Indian missions no longer process visa applications in-house, but they will be able to give you information on visa requirements and fees and direct you to the visa application center responsible for your area. The Indian Government also has an online portal for visa applications, but you will need to hand your final paperwork in to a consulate or embassy.

All visa applications must consist of the following:

  • a completed application form (please note that in some countries, you can only fill this in online)
  • your valid passport with two blank pages facing each other
  • the correct fee for the type of visa you are applying for
  • two passport-sized (5x5 cm) photographs

Depending on the type of visa applied for, further documents are often required.

The Working Expat

Expats moving to Delhi for professional reasons usually fall within one of the two visa categories below. Both types of visa simultaneously serve as a work permit.

The employment visa is granted to employees sent to India on an intra-company transfer or to expats with a guaranteed offer of employment from an Indian company. An employment visa is initially valid for one year, which can subsequently be extended at the local Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). It is also available as a one-year visa to foreigners wishing to do voluntary work for a registered NGO. In addition to the documents listed above, you will need to provide additional paperwork. It mostly includes proof of employment (e.g. a signed work contract that also includes information on your salary), company information on your employer in India (proof that the company resides in India), and proof of your ability to do the job (e.g. academic and professional qualifications).

The business visa is for entrepreneurs or investors wishing to set up a business, purchase or sell industrial products, or establish business ties with a company in India. In addition to a letter from your company outlining the details of your trip, you also have to attach documents from Indian business contacts: you need either a letter of invitation from your Indian business partner or a written statement from your client or contracting body, concerning the nature of the business and the length of your stay. You cannot convert a business visa into an employment visa while staying in India. A business visa may be valid for more than one year, though each stay is limited to six months at a time.

Other Visa Categories

While we will not deal with student, tourist, and medical tourist visas in this article, we would like to give you a short overview of the other visa categories which might be relevant for expats:

  • Family members and dependents of expats working in Delhi should apply for an entry visa. Please note that an entry visa does not give you the right to take up paid employment. It is, however, possible to work as a volunteer or an unpaid intern and attend courses. You will need to provide a copy of the principal visa your entry visa is tied to, e.g. your spouse’s / parent’s employment visa.
  • Research professors and scholars may be granted a research visa valid for the duration of their project (up to three years at most) if they submit the following: an entry clearance, a research proposal, evidence of their financial resources, and a letter of admission from a recognized university or research institution.
  • There is a niche category for project workers in the power and steel industries: the project visa.
  • Journalists, irrespective of the purpose of their stay, always need a journalist visa, which is then valid for three months. If you do not intend to carry out any journalistic work during your stay in India, you must submit a written statement to that effect. Journalists going to India for journalistic purposes need to register with the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India in order to obtain a PIB card. You need to produce a letter from your employer stating the purpose of your trip, activities to be undertaken, and places to be visited for journalistic purposes. Also, be aware that authorization from the Indian Government is required for any audiovisual shooting or documentary film material.  

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jonathan Brown

"The great events organized by InterNations helped me get to know Delhi expats from all over the world."

Sophie Poirier

"When I moved from Canada to Delhi, InterNations helped me connect with fellow Americans and feel more at home."

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