If you are coming to India for a work or business related opportunity, you will need to obtain either an employment visa or a business visa depending on your specific conditions.
A business visa is typically granted to foreign nationals who intend to partake in short-term business-related activities in India. Entrepreneurs or individuals working for a company outside of India but who will be working temporarily (or for short periods at a time) with an Indian counterpart should apply for this type of visa. This is not an employment visa, nor does it allow for employment in India, so any earnings should not be paid from an Indian company.
Business visas are issued for one- and five-year periods and offer multiple entry access. Easier to apply for than an employment visa, your application must include a letter of invitation from a business counterpart in India, as well as a letter of introduction from your non-Indian employer including details about the purpose, duration and location of your intended visit(s), as well as their pledge of responsibility for all expenses incurred by the applicant while in India. The standard application form, processing fee, photographs and photocopies of passport will also be required.
Assuming sufficient supporting documents are provided, a business visa may take anywhere from a couple of days to six weeks to process, so check ahead with your local embassy or consulate.
Due to the intended short-term nature of business visits to India, spouses and dependents are typically not considered for a long-term X-visa. Applying for a six-month tourist visa to accompany one’s spouse would be the easiest to obtain, and greater consideration may be given for a longer-term tourist visa (one- and five-year are sometimes available) if your application is presented with your spouse’s business visa application. It should be noted, however, that tourist visas require a two-month waiting period between visits for some nationalities.
Employment Visa (Work Permit)
In order to live and work in India, an employment visa must be obtained. These are issued either to ‘skilled professionals’ or to foreign nationals who have been offered a set position for a specific company in India. The company hiring you will have to arrange the paperwork and begin the process in India, however, you will still be required to visit your local embassy/consulate to apply. Proof of employment and residence will be required (often guest houses are pre-arranged by the company, at least for an initial period), along with supporting documentation from the Indian company, such as an employment contract specifing salary, scope of position and fixed dates (if a fixed contract). Also your CV/resume, any and all academic diplomas/certificates and/or proof of your professional skillset. Intra-company transfers also fall under this category, and are awarded on a case by case basis.
Employment visas can be difficult to obtain and involve a more lengthy process than the business visa, depending on the Indian company that is hiring the applicant. Large companies which have a high volume of foreign nationals employed will likely have an embassy contact who can speed the process along, however smaller companies may require more patience and planning time.
Should employment with the sponsoring Indian company be terminated for any reason, the employment visa holder will have to return to his/her home country since the employment visa is only valid for employment with the originally specified company. Visa type changes are generally not permitted within the country.
Spouses and dependents can apply for an X-visa to accompany their employed spouse/parent, however if the spouse also wishes to work, he/she will have to apply for an employment visa him/herself from outside of India since employment is not granted on an X-visa.