Govt to tighten norms for business visas

Written by Shishir Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 1 2009, 05:08am hrs
After taking a hard look at the way business visas were granted to even Chinese unskilled workers, the government has opted for a tough business visa regime, at the same time encouraging foreign nationals working in India to seek employment visas. The last date for Chinese nationals to change their existing three month business visa to employment visa has now been extended to October 31 from September 30.

Top government sources said that it has been conveyed to Beijing through diplomatic channels that it would not be possible for India to give 25,000 business visas as was done during the tenure of then Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao and it would be better for Chinese nationals to apply for an employment visa if they are working in India. It is understood that already 1,000 employment visa applications have been submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs by Chinese nationals working in India on business visa. Another 2,000 applications have been submitted to the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

New Delhi has apparently made up its mind to restrict the number of visas to Chinese nationals to around 5,000 per year though the policy has still not been put on paper. A shape of things to come was given by the new Indian Ambassador to Beijing, S Jaishankar, who told the Ficci-CCPIT (China Council for Promotion of International Trade) this month that he could not recall if any other Indian trade partner, except China, required such large manpower support from home. Jaishankar indicated that like other Indian economic partner countries, China should also adopt a business model that relies on local Indian capabilities.

The tough business visa regime is not just directed at China. In fact, the Ministry of Home Affairs has alerted the Ministry of Defence to a large number of French and other European nationals working on business visa in the defence sector joint ventures. The Defence Ministry has been told that these Europeans should be encouraged to take employment visa if they are staying in India for more than a month.

After getting a proper survey done from the immigration department and visa section, it was found that some of the foreign nationals, particularly Chinese, would work on business visa in India for three months and then return to their country of origin just to get their business visa stamped again.