At the time of update, May 2013, it is technically illegal for foreign nationals to retire in India. There are no retirement visas available, but if you wish to retire in India for the warm climate, the relatively low cost of living, and the affordable medical care, there are creative ways to stay in India long-term. Bear in mind that the consulate is not likely to help you with finding such loopholes.
Here are some options to explore if you have connections to Indian ancestry:
- Overseas Citizenship of India Status: If you, or one of your parents or grandparents, was a citizen of India – you might be able to apply for Overseas Citizenship Of India (OCI). As an overseas citizen of India, you can stay in India indefinitely with few restrictions. For details, see the Government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs website on OCI at http://mha.nic.in/uniquepage.asp?Id_Pk=553
- Person of Indian Origin: If your spouse is of Indian descent, you can apply for Person of Indian Origin (PIO) status. This status allows you to visit India for fifteen years without a visa. However, each visit to India is limited to 180 days, unless you register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). The application form can be downloaded from the Ministry of Home Affairs website: http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/CZ-Form-III.pdf
These are the limited options for those who are not of Indian descent or who are not married to an Indian citizen:
- Tourist Visa: Most foreign nationals are granted six month visas (180 days) to India. If you leave the country, perhaps to neighboring Sri Lanka, you can extend your stay by applying for another tourist visa outside India – but you must be out of India for two months before returning. You cannot renew your tourist visa in India – you must leave the country, apply for another tourist visa, and then return. Converting a tourist visa to another type of visa is very near impossible.
- 10 Year Tourist Visa for U.S. Citizens: If you are an American citizen, you can apply for a ten year tourist visa to India. However, you still need to leave India every 180 days. You would not need to apply for another visa until the ten year tourist visa expires.
- Never overstay a visa of any kind. It is a crime and doing so can prevent you from legal entry to India in the future.
- Since there are no easy and legal ways to retire in India as a foreigner, be sure to conduct thorough research and be certain your plan is up-to-date with current laws. For more information on immigrating to India, visit the Foreigner’s Division section of the Government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs website at http://mha.nic.in/ForeigDiv/ForeigHome.html.