April 2024 / India

12 Aprile 2024

Investor visas in India: a comprehensive guide

With its thriving and booming economy, extensively skilled workforce, and diverse industries, India has emerged as a global business hub and continues strengthening its position. The nation is the 5th largest economy in the world - according to the International Monetary Fund- with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $4.1 Trillion. Furthermore, S&P Global estimates that India’s GDP will reach $6.7 Trillion by 2031, making it the third-largest economy globally.

Policy reforms and infrastructure developments across diverse industries, including manufacturing, information technology, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and more, have fortified the consumer base. Thus, India’s robust and expanding consumer market offers lucrative and resilient opportunities for businesses seeking to diversify operations. Moreover, the nation’s abundant natural resources and skilled workforce ensure a streamlined establishment of operations, making it a hub of international commerce and trade.

Foreign nationals can apply for a variety of visas depending on the purpose of their travel. In 2014, e-visa was introduced, open to more than 166 nationalities. The visa application process has been streamlined and made hassle-free, eliminating the need to visit embassies and physical visa stamping on passports.

Foreign nationals entering the nation seeking to work in India can fall under two categories: those seeking to work in and from India and those desirous of setting up an industrial/business venture in India. Separate types of visas are granted to the two, with their unique set of tenure, requirements, and eligibility criteria.

The Different Investor Visas in India

The two work-related visas for foreign individuals are namely:

  • Business e-Visa, commonly known as a ‘B’ visa
  • Employment e-Visa, widely referred to as ‘E’ visa

Employment visas are granted to highly skilled and/or qualified professionals drawing a salary of more than $25,000 per annum (with the exception of ethnic cooks, language teachers, translators, and staff working in embassies) seeking employment with an Indian business or organisation. This visa is also given to those professionals already employed by an organisation that has an ongoing project in India.

However, if a foreign individual seeks to establish or explore the different avenues of establishing an industrial/business venture in India, the Business e-Visa is granted. It covers the buying and selling of industrial products, commercial products, and/or consumer durables.

Furthermore, foreign individuals should opt for a business visa if they are visiting India:

  • To attend technical, board, or general meetings to provide business services and/or support
  • To recruit manpower from India for their businesses
  • To consult for and/or participate in exhibitions, trade fairs, etc.
  • To serve as a partner and/or function as one of the company’s directors
  • To transact business with suppliers or explore potential suppliers from India, including the evaluation or monitoring quality of the supply chain, placing of supply orders, etc., about the goods or services procured from India
  • To monitor the progress of an ongoing project in India, to conduct meetings with Indian consumers, and/or to provide technical guidance
  • To conduct pre-sales or post-sales activity on a project in collaboration with an Indian business
  • To receive in-house training from a regional hub of a business located in India
  • To conduct business tours for foreigners exploring investment opportunities in India

Business visas with multiple entry facilities are granted for 5 years and can be further extended for another 5 years. Moreover, nationals from the United States of America are eligible for business visas with a validity of 10 years and a multiple entry facility.

The Application Process for e-Visas in India

Applying for a business visa is a simple process. The launch of the e-Visa web portal in 2014 has streamlined the application process for Indian visas. One need only fill in a simple e-Visa application form with the following supporting documents:

  • A valid passport with at least two blank pages and a six-month validity period, along with the appropriate travel documents
  • Passport-sized photos, a letter of introduction/support from a registered Indian business entity
  • A certificate of incorporation of the Indian business entity
  • Proof of financial stability and experience in the industry the business operates under

Moreover, the family members or dependents of a foreign investor who have been granted a business visa will also be provided with dependent visas. The dependent visas shall have the same validity period as the principal business visa or for such shorter period as may be considered necessary by the Indian Mission.

Benefits of having an Investor Visa in India

An Investor Visa in India offers several advantages for foreign entrepreneurs.  Understanding the importance of aligning immigration objectives with investment opportunities, India also grants Permanent Residency Status (PRS) to foreign investors with a business visa.

To qualify for PRS, a foreign investor must invest at least INR 10 Crore within 18 months or a minimum of INR 250 Cr within 36 months under the FDI route, resulting in employment for at least 20 resident Indians in every financial year. Individuals with investor visas and their families/dependents who have been granted dependent visas are eligible for PRS if they meet the above criteria.

A PRS with multiple entries is provided for 10 years and a further extension for another 10 years.

Though most visas are non-convertible, business visas can be converted under the following circumstances:

  • If the business visa holder falls ill, rendering them unfit for travel, the visa may be converted to a Medical Visa
  • If the business visa holder marries an Indian national, the visa may be converted pending the submission of documents certifying the marriage
  • If the holder of the business visa is a person of Indian origin

Choosing the right visa option

Choosing from the wide range of visa options for your investment goals is challenging. It necessitates thorough investigation, planning, and preparation. Here are a few things you should look out for:

  • Consider your budget, business interests, and expectations. What are your strengths as an investor, and which domain out of the wide range of industries in India is best aligned with your goals
  • Investigate the visa requirements, minimum investment amounts, industry tax regulations, and residency status criterion for the different visa options available
  • Consult experts and investors who have previously invested in entities based out of India to get a complete picture
  • Ensure that the purpose of the business visa is clearly stated. Detailed information, such as planned meetings, partnerships, supplier negotiations, or business negotiations, is advised to enhance the credibility of the business visa application


India’s economy is growing rapidly and is expected to become the world’s third-largest in less than a decade. Foreign investors should consider their business's potential growth and the minimum investment requirements to qualify for the various rights and privileges available for business visa holders.

It’s highly advised that one keeps informed of the requirements and eligibility criteria of the different visas as requested by the Indian embassy or consulate. Ensure that all documents are organised, annotated, and prepared as per requirements to facilitate a seamless application and review process. Furthermore, applications for business visas should advisably be planned to avoid time conflicts and delays.

Business visas help investors and businesses explore and leverage India's unlimited growth potential and talent pool. With a burgeoning economy, talented entrepreneurs, and a robust infrastructure supporting various industries, India is poised to become the epicentre of global trade and business in the coming decades.

Source: investindia.gov.in