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SETTING at rest the confusion over a recent directive that all foreign nationals holding business visas and working on projects in India have to return to their home countries post their visa period or by October 31 2009, whichever earlier, the ministry of home affairs has issued a clarification demarking business and employment visas.

While the ‘business visa’ will be granted to foreign nationals who wants to visit India to establish an industrial/business venture or to explore possibilities to set up an industrial/business venture, or who want to purchase/sell industrial products in India; the ‘employment visa’ will be given to skilled and qualified foreigners desiring to come to India for purpose of employment.

The strictures by the Indian government are being seen as a move to stop the entry of hundreds of low skilled Chinese workers into the country.

The fact that business and employment visas can be issued from the country of domicile of the foreigner provided that the period of permanent residence in that country is for more than two years has come as a big relief. This is a relaxation of the earlier announcement that applications had to be made from the country of origin only. Foreign experts on a visit of short duration in connection with an ongoing project to monitor the progress of the work or to conduct short meetings with customers will be eligible for business visas, while foreigners who come to India on short visits to customer locations to repair any plant or machinery as part of warranty or maintenance contracts will be eligible for employment visas.

Amitabh Singh, partner at global consultancy Ernst & Young, said that the earlier circulars had failed to dwell in detail business and work-related activities, and hence confusion prevailed over which visa was needed to certain activities.

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