Sector Specific Project Visas in India

This article is a comprehensive guide which sums up the process of application for a Project Visa in India.

A project visa can be granted to foreign nationals coming to India for execution of projects in the power and steel sectors. This visa is a project specific visa. Under no circumstances a person visiting the Country on a project visa would be allowed to be engaged in another project either of the same company or of a different company. This visa is a multiple entry visa the validity of which is decided depending on the project in question.

Eligibility for Project Visa:

Following are the conditions which must be fulfilled by a foreign national in order to obtain a project visa for India:
  • The Project Visa is issued only for skilled/highly skilled persons.
  • A foreign national coming on Project Visa is not allowed to take up employment in the same Indian company for a period of two years from the date of commissioning of the project.
  • The Indian Company engaging the foreign national for executing the project or contract would be responsible for the conduct of the foreign national during their stay in India and also for the departure of such foreign national upon expiry of visa.
  • In case the project or contract site falls in the Protected/Restricted Area, the grant of Protected Area Permit (PAP) / Restricted Area Permit (RAP) should be integrated with the grant of Project Visa. In all these cases, prior clearance of the Ministry of Home Affairs has to be obtained.
  • The foreigner coming on Project Visa will have to register themselves with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) / Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) concerned within 14 days of arrival if the validity of visa is for more than 180 days. If the validity of visa is for a period of 180 days or less, registration would not be required.
Validity and Extension of a Project Visa:
  • The period of validity of a project visa is initially for a period of one year or for the actual duration of the project or contract, whichever is less, with multiple-entry facility available.
  • The visa can also be extended for another one year by the relevant Government or Administration concerned. Any further extension of this visa can be granted only by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • After the completion of the project, the visa holder is expected to surrender the visa and leave the Country.
Documents Required for a Project Visa:

Following is a list of documents required for submitting an application for a Project Visa:
  • Valid passport with at least 6 months of validity remaining.
  • Photocopy of the passport.
  • Passport sized photographs.
  • Online Project Visa application form, filled in as necessary. (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/Registration )
  • Appointment letter from company.
  • Letter from Indian company affirming that a sanctioned project has been transferred in whole or in part to a foreign concern for completion, execution, training, completion, or a part in the process.
  • Contract letter.
  • All the relevant details of the organization.
Difference between a Project Visa and an Employment Visa:

A Project Visa is issued to a skilled/highly skilled foreign national worker so that they may travel to India and perform their duties so that a particular project may be completed. The Visa is applied through the company sending the person across, and the person being sent across is usually already employed by the foreign company. It’s an understanding that the travel and work in India are for a definite period, and is not permanent in nature.

Project Visa workers can’t be sent across on an Employment Visa because an Employment Visa indicates that the Visa holder is enrolled in the ranks of a company that operates in India and gets paid on the Indian payroll system, and pays their taxes in India. Employment Visas are for those foreign nationals who are seeking or are placed in permanent posts as employees of a company, as opposed to being temporary highly skilled/skilled workers that are sent across to India to contribute towards the completion of a particular project.

Project Visa Fees:

The total fee for a project Visa depends, in part, on the exact type of Visa for which a valid application has been submitted.

The total Project Visa fee consists of:
  • Basic Fees.
  • Special Fees.
  • Processing Fee by outsourcing agency.
The total fee for a particular Project Visa will be displayed online at the end of the registration process. It should be noted that the fee displayed at the end of the registration process is just indicative of the approximate amount. The total fee will be charged at the final stage of application – at the concerned counter.

Sector Specific Ceilings:

Sector-specific ceilings on the maximum number of Project Visas allowed for each project in Power and Steel sectors are given below:-

1. Power Sector:
  • For a project where the main plant equipment and its sub-systems are sourced from a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), the maximum number of foreign personnel allowed or granted a Project Visa may vary from 50 to 70.
  • For an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) project, where the main plant and equipment, its sub-systems and full or part of the Balance of Plant (BOP) is sourced from a foreign OEM, the maximum number of foreign personnel allowed may vary from 76 to 125.
 
2. Steel Sector:

The total manpower requirements of the project should be determined at the stage of conceptualization of the project by the sponsoring authority with a flow chart. Foreign manpower requirement beyond the above limits may be examined by a Standing Committee having members from Ministries concerned.
  • In case of green field projects – 10% of the total skilled manpower deployed per million tonne capacity or 300 persons, whichever is lower.
  • For Brownfield projects – 5% of the total skilled manpower deployed per million tonne capacity or 150 persons, whichever is lower.
  • For ongoing projects with contractual obligation, deployment of foreign personnel may exceed the guidelines based on examination by the Ministry of Labour & Employment on the merits of each case.
For the purpose of determining the capacity of the unit, it should be the approved capacity as certified by the Ministry concerned of the Government of India in respect of Public sector undertakings (PSUs). In respect of Private sector Steel units, the basis of capacity may be as per the financial disclosure statement of a Scheduled Bank or RBI-approved Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) duly authenticated and certified.