Working In India As An Expat

Adam Fayed
16 min readFeb 7, 2024

Working in India as an expat is an opportunity to participate in one of the economies that are growing the fastest and are the most diverse culturally on a global scale.

Only China has a larger economically active population than this country, which has a labour force of over 512 million people, making it the second largest economically active population in the world.

If you want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use these contact options.

The Economy of India

The manufacturing sector and the ever-evolving service industry both play a significant role in India’s economy, which is consistently ranked as one of the most robust economies in the world.

The tax rates in India are highly advantageous, and a large number of international agreements have been made to eliminate the possibility of expats being subjected to double taxation.

Due to the regularly found lack of suitable equipment and facilities in Indian public hospitals, particularly in rural areas and smaller cities, the consideration of private health insurance is necessary. This is especially the case in urban areas.

In the context of working in India, individuals may, depending on the nature of their employment, have the chance to participate in either the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) or the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

In spite of the fact that India’s yearly GDP growth rate dropped to 5.4% in 2012 — less than half of the rate that was seen in 2010 — experts maintain that the country has not yet reached its full economic potential.

In 2016, India proudly declared a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.1%.

This comes after the country experienced a significant economic slowdown in the year 2012 and has since shown remarkable signs of recovering from this setback.

It is commonly believed that the country’s inability to develop an adequate level of infrastructure is the primary factor preventing it from making further strides toward becoming an economic superpower.

In India, there is a tremendous amount of rivalry among highly skilled individuals who are looking for jobs that match their level of expertise.

The enormous talent pool that is available for employment is increasingly attracting the interest of multi-national organizations that are considering the possibility of outsourcing their work.

This trend has been aggressively supported and encouraged by the Indian government. Since 1991, there has been a shift toward a greater emphasis on international commerce and investment, which has been accompanied by a concomitant relaxation of economic control.

There has been a proportional increase in the number of people working in India who were brought there from other countries as a result of the growing presence of multinational firms.

Top Sectors for Employment in India

In spite of the fact that the agricultural sector contributed only 17.3% of the nation’s GVA (gross added value) in the 2016–2017 fiscal year, it is the primary source of subsistence for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 58% of the country’s population, although exact data are notoriously difficult to pin down.

In India, about 51% of the population is engaged in some form of agricultural activity, and this activity can take many different forms.

This includes those who work in modern agricultural industries, such as traditional farmers in rural areas and their families. It also includes the houses that belong to these farmers.

Rice, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, and vegetables are the most common crops that Indian farmers grow, in addition to tea and spices, which are largely cultivated by Indian farmers.

Nearly 22% of India’s workforce is employed in the country’s manufacturing sector, which contributes more than 29% to the country’s GDP and offers employment opportunities to nearly all of the workforce.

The vast workforce that is employed in the cement business, which exceeds one million people, plays a crucial part in India’s place as the world’s second-largest manufacturer of cement.

There are a number of additional sub-sector industries that demonstrate large employment rates in addition to the sectors that were previously mentioned.

These include the fields of textiles, mining equipment, transport equipment, medicines, chemical manufacturing, software development, and machinery.

It is important to point out that the robust and rising service sector is responsible for 53% of the nation’s total gross domestic product (GDP), while also offering employment possibilities for around 27% of the working population.

When compared to other areas of the economy, certain industries, such as information technology, IT-enabled services, and telecommunications, as well as financial, social, personal, cultural, and recreational services, have seen a more rapid development rate.

In India, the term “financial services” is used as a catch-all phrase to refer to individuals who are employed in the banking industry, real estate businesses, and insurance organizations.

Job Opportunities for Expats in India

Expats who are looking for employment chances in emerging countries have increasingly been leaning toward India as their destination of choice.

Because of the enormous growth that has taken place in India’s infrastructure, industry, and service sectors during the past ten years, there has been an increase in the number of opportunities available for foreign investors.

As a direct consequence of this, the nation has risen to prominence as an attractive location for multinational corporations, many of which have chosen to locate their primary operations within its boundaries.

As a consequence of the aforementioned situation, there are now a great deal of employment opportunities available inside the country for individuals who are working in professional and specialized capacities.

Numerous sectors, including information technology and information technology-enabled services (IT/ITeS), engineering, infrastructure, manufacturing, petroleum and steel production, finance, textiles, and tourism all have a strong demand for foreign expertise.

Expats typically work in marketing, sales, and consulting roles in addition to senior executive positions in international businesses.

Expats may also work in administrative roles. The labour market in India is notoriously cutthroat, particularly when it comes to highly specialized job tasks.

Therefore, career opportunities are better for non-native speakers of the language who have a wealth of relevant experience and a high degree of expertise in specialized fields.

The liberalization of investment rules, the move toward high-tech services, the creation of new manufacturing sectors and unicorn start-ups, and the launch of large-scale infrastructure projects have all been factors that have influenced the employment of foreign talent in India.

Because of these developments, the amount of foreign finance invested in the country has increased.

In the same vein, the living and working conditions in India have undergone adaptations in order to conform with the cultural standards of major urban centres and secondary cities globally. This is particularly the case in the more populous urban areas.

An atmosphere that is suitable for job possibilities with an international scope has been developed as a result of the formation of special economic zones (SEZs), industrial and software parks, corporate centres, and other types of economic development in these locations.

The division of cities in India into different tiers is mostly determined by population rather than by the degree to which they have developed.

Why You Should Consider Working in India as an Expat

Labor Laws and Regulations in India

Regardless of the nationality of the workers or the incorporation status of the business, all organizations that are functioning inside the borders of India are required to comply with the labour laws that have been enacted there.

Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that the ambit of labour law is restricted to organizations, employers, and employees who are located entirely inside the borders of India.

Salaries for Expats in India

For non-Indian citizens who wish to apply for a work visa in India, the Indian government has imposed a stringent minimum wage requirement that is greater than $25,000 U.S. dollars per year. This figure takes into account both the base income and any allowances.

As a result of the financial constraints that are imposed, this policy has the effect of limiting the number of high-ranking and specialized roles that are open to individuals from other countries.

However, the minimum wage regulation does not apply to individuals who are not native speakers of the language and who are employed in specific positions.

These individuals include language instructors and interpreters, culinary professionals who come from other cultural backgrounds, personnel working in diplomatic missions, and academics affiliated with important educational institutions.

Business Culture in India

In the context of India, the organizational structure of workplaces typically takes the form of a hierarchical arrangement, which may be recognized by clear delineations between the different levels of administration.

The country’s business etiquette is a combination of Western and Eastern standards, with the influence of local customs being visible in interpersonal dynamics.

The country’s business etiquette is a synthesis of Western and Eastern conventions. It is absolutely necessary to take into account all of these aspects in order to establish fruitful business relationships.

When beginning a conversation with an Indian coworker or associate or engaging in business transactions with them, it is essential to give serious consideration to the necessity of appealing to an individual’s sense of honour and displaying respect for each other’s obligations and skills.

Working in India as an Expat

Taxation in India

Individuals from other countries who reside inside the borders of India and participate in employment activities within those borders are required to comply with the taxation requirements imposed by the government of India, with certain limited exemptions to this obligation.

A number of economically liberalizing adjustments were made to the tax structure in order to encourage increased levels of commercial activity and investment.

Income tax rates that are applicable to individuals employed within the country have been in place in India since April 2011, when they were first adopted.

These rates are structured as follows: individuals with an annual income not exceeding 250,000 INR are subject to a 0% tax rate, income falling within the range of 250,001 INR to 500,000 INR is subject to a 10% tax rate, and income falling within the subsequent bracket, which has an upper maximum of 1,000,000 INR is subject to a 20% tax rate.

In India, persons who make an annual income that is greater than one million Indian Rupees (INR) are liable to a tax rate that is equivalent to thirty percent of their total profits.

Foreign investors, companies, and international personnel who do not have resident status in India are eligible to take advantage of two policies enacted by the Indian government that are designed to reduce the impact of the problem of double taxation.

The existence of more than 80 Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with a variety of different countries makes it easier to provide relief on a bilateral basis.

We suggest referring to the appropriate section of the official website of the Income Tax Department in order to gain access to the most recent information.

Individuals who are engaged in work assignments that do not exceed a duration of 183 days within a single financial year and who are also receiving their wage from a company that is not based in India are subject to taxation in their country of residence rather than in the nation where the income originates.

These people are commonly referred to as expats.

When jurisdiction is simultaneously granted to two countries, there are specific circumstances in which the country of “residence” consents to the issue of tax credits for taxes paid in the country of “source.”

Additionally, the Income Tax Act has provisions for unilateral relief, which gives the Indian government the authority to exclude particular individuals from paying taxes in order to prevent the imposition of a second tax on the same income.

It is recommended that individuals access the official website of the Income Tax Department of the Government of India in order to determine the specific tax regulations that are applicable to them as individuals. This can be done by clicking here.

The Indian fiscal year begins in April and ends the following March; the deadline for filing individual income tax returns is at the end of July. Despite this, there is a chance that the fiscal year will be adjusted such that it coincides with the calendar year as early as 2018.

Social Security in India

India has a rudimentary social security system, although it only covers a small part of the country’s total labour force. Individuals in Indian society have long relied on their extensive familial networks to provide assistance and aid during times of illness or other difficult circumstances.

This has been the case for the majority of Indian history. In spite of this, migration, urbanization, and increased social mobility have all contributed to a loosening of the ties that bind families together, which has led to much smaller family units when compared to those that existed in earlier times.

At the moment, neither governmental nor commercial insurance bodies have completely taken on the burden of resolving this shortcoming.

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) are two of the most well-known social security programs in India. Both of these organizations are abbreviated as “EPFO” and “ESIC.”

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization, also known as EPFO, is in charge of managing a provident fund, which is more popularly known as a pension system. Additionally, EPFO is in charge of managing an insurance plan.

EPFO members and their families are eligible to receive a variety of benefits related to old age, disability, and financial help in the event that the primary wage earner passes away as a result of their membership in these schemes.

Employees with lower salaries are eligible for coverage under the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), which provides them with basic healthcare and social security programs.

In contrast, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not cover low-income workers. The scope of coverage was initially limited to people working in factories, but it has since been broadened to include people working in other types of organizations, including hospitals and schools in India.

Originally, the target audience was individuals employed in manufacturing. It has been decided to exclude Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh from the implementation of the ESI scheme, which has been expanded to cover all other states.

However, the effectiveness of government enforcement strategies is limited, which is the cause of a considerable percentage of businesses ignoring their responsibility to remit contributions on behalf of their employees.

In addition, the sector that is generally known as the “unorganized” sector, which is mostly comprised of agricultural businesses, does not have legal cover for social security measures, which results in a disproportionately high prevalence of the problem.

Over ninety-two percent of India’s working population was found to be employed in the country’s informal economy in the year 2014.

According to this statistic, over 370 million Indians and their families do not have access to the benefits that are offered by social security systems. This constitutes a significant population that is not receiving these benefits.

Mutual Social Security Agreements with India

Individuals who work in India for an extended period of time and are employed by companies that are part of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) are obligated to make social security contributions that are equivalent to 12% of their income.

This is the case even if they only work for one company. In spite of this, India has formed reciprocal social security agreements with a number of European nations, in addition to the ones that have already been mentioned above.

Because of these agreements, expats of certain nationalities have the possibility to continue contributing to the social security system of their home country, even after they have relocated to India.

This ensures that they will continue to get their benefits in a continuous manner. The status of “excluded employee” will be bestowed upon the expats in question as a result of this arrangement.

However, as a general rule, these agreements are only applicable to expats whose duration of assignment in India does not exceed a period of five years.

The terms and circumstances of these agreements vary depending on the particular bilateral agreement; however, they are only applicable to expats.

Quite a few nations, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and the Republic of Korea, have signed social security agreements with India.

Ongoing negotiations are currently taking place with a number of more nations.

It is highly recommended that before leaving for India, you check with the social security office in your home country to determine whether or not the agreement has been properly signed and, what is of the utmost importance, whether or not it is officially in effect.

It is recommended that anyone interested in current information on the subject look at the Emigration Services section of the official website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. This area may be found on the website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

Health Insurance for Expats in India

Before travelling to India, it is essential to be certain that you have adequate coverage under your health insurance plan.

There is already a growing number of private multinational insurance companies that are expanding their operations into the Indian market.

Although it is anticipated that a sizeable number of expats will be hired by organizations affiliated with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) or the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), difficulties in terms of the availability and quality of public healthcare services are anticipated.

In many instances, public facilities demonstrate maintenance procedures that are below acceptable standards and lack medical equipment that is on the bleeding edge of technology.

People living in certain rural areas have been seen embarking on travels that last for several days in order to go to a hospital that has the necessary equipment to treat their injuries.

In contrast to what was previously stated, it should be brought to your attention that India actually does provide access to medical treatment of a high standard.

It is essential to take into consideration the fact that a sizeable fraction of India’s hospitals are part of the country’s private sector, which is excluded from the coverage of the public health insurance system.

To be more specific, the private sector is responsible for 74% of hospitals and 40% of hospital beds across the nation.

How to Apply for Work Permit in India

Individuals who are not nationals of India and who do not have permanent status in India normally need to obtain a work visa in order to work in the country.

The term “workers eligible for benefits” refers to a diverse group of individuals, some instances of which are included below as illustrative rather than exhaustive examples:

  • Employees from other countries working for an Indian company
  • The non-Indian employees and higher-ranking executives of a multinational firm with a subsidiary in India who are not from India.
  • Members of a non-governmental organization (NGO) as individuals.

When extending a job offer to a newly hired employee in India, it is absolutely necessary to include a provision in the offer letter stating that the offer is contingent on the employee’s legal ability to carry out their duties within the territorial confines of India.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Work Permit in India

The amount of time required to complete a visa application is dependent on a number of factors, including the applicant’s country of origin, the particular visa category that is being requested, the length of stay that is anticipated, and the amount of work currently being done by immigration authorities in India.

As a result of the wide range of possible processing times — which can range from a minimum of three business days to potentially many months — it is strongly advised that the procedure for applying for an Indian visa be initiated as quickly as possible after it has been determined that one is required.

You can get the most up-to-date information by contacting the Indian consulate or embassy that is located in the employee’s home country.

Types of Work Visas in India

Different skill sets, candidate characteristics, and employment durations ranging from six months to five years are taken into consideration while determining eligibility for work permits in India. The following types of visas are available to foreign professionals who are looking for lawful employment in India:

Employment Visas (E Visas)

This visa is issued to foreign nationals of exceptional ability who have been sponsored by an Indian company or a multinational corporation with operations in India.

These visas are often referred to as “E” visas. An E visa may be obtained by employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) provided that their regular pay is at least 10,000 Indian Rupees (INR) per month.

Prospective applicants have the choice to submit an application for a single entry visa if they do not intend to participate in frequent travel or choose to submit an application for a multiple entry visa if they anticipate making intermittent exits from the country.

Business Visa (B Visa)

This visa is designed for persons who are interested in establishing a corporate presence in India as prospective business owners and can be obtained by those who meet the requirements of the visa.

In addition to this, it could be used for investment purposes or by corporate leaders who travel to India for business meetings and conferences.

It is important to remember that those who are not nationals of India and who desire to visit the country for purposes other than work need to get a separate tourist visa before entering the country.

What’s the Process to Apply for Work Visa in India

The type of work and length of stay both play a role in determining which qualifications are necessary to qualify for an Indian work visa.

Generally speaking, potential applicants are required to be in possession of a passport that was granted by their home country, pictures of their identities, an employment agreement from an Indian-registered company, and documentation that the company in question is registered.

Additional prerequisites might include financial statements, a curriculum vitae written in English, educational credentials, and declarations of financial responsibility with regard to taxes.

When applying for Indian employment permission, below are the most important procedures that you should anticipate.

To electronically submit an application for a visa to the Indian government, prospective applicants have the option of using the website that is officially sanctioned by the Indian government.

It is necessary that a person who is applying for an E visa, which requires sponsorship, provides the job contract and registration certificate of their sponsor.

In the case that a person is seeking an E visa, which requires sponsorship, it is imperative that they do so. In addition to that, it will be necessary for them to provide a scan of both their fingerprints and faces.

Applicants for visas are required, once they have finished filling out the online application form, to print off a hard copy of the form and then take it, along with their passport and photographs for identification, to the embassy that has been assigned for that purpose.

After the application has been processed and approved, the applicant has the choice of either picking up the visa in person at the embassy or having it mailed to them.

Individuals from other countries who intend to stay in India for a period of time that is longer than six months in a row are mandated to complete the registration process with either a Foreign Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), a Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO), or the local police superintendent in order to be in compliance with the laws enacted by the Indian government.

This is necessary in order to fulfil the requirements set forth by the Indian government. The completion of this activity must be completed within a fortnight after the arrival of a newly granted visa holder; otherwise, penalty penalties will be imposed. If the task is not completed within this time frame, the penalty fines will be imposed.

Final Thoughts

Working in India as an expat exposes one to a wide variety of experiences, some of which include the intricate tapestry of Indian culture, the lively commercial climate, and the inherent challenges that come with adapting to a fresh setting.

Those who temporarily or permanently live in a country other than their own have the opportunity to thrive within the complex and evolving culture of India.

These people are usually referred to as expats. However, it is essential for them to be able to deftly navigate the complexities connected with bureaucracy, infrastructure, and the cultural nuances involved.

In the end, deciding whether or not to work as an expat in India is a decision that is entirely up to the person and is heavily impacted by their particular goals, expectations, and level of adaptability.

Expats, as they seize the chance and overcome the hurdles, make vital contributions to the always-evolving story of India’s global labour force.

As a result, they carve out a unique and satisfying sector within their own professional trajectories, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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