The new visa regime has proved a hindrance to foreign nationals working on government projects. So, the Centre has come up with a solution: a “flexible” government-to-government category in the new visa manual, expected to be ready by the month-end.
The new rules state that those coming to India on business visas can’t work until they get employment visas. There are 1,395 foreigners working on projects for the Defence Ministry and 159 for the Department of Atomic Energy, all on B-visas. So, the Centre will convert all their B-visas into E-visas.
China and Russia had taken up the matter of the new rules with the External Affairs Ministry.
“We are looking at flexibility on government-to-government category projects — dealing with defence, DAE and nuclear power. Considering the sensitivity and national interest involved, visa conversion needs to be streamlined,” a government official said.
As of now, the Home Ministry is expected to complete security vetting for an E-visa applications within 45 days. If this doesn’t happen, the Indian missions “may” take it that the ministry has cleared the application and process it. “We need clarity on this,” the official said.
Also, the official said, the “surge in projects” necessitates an examination of the old rule that foreigners should not exceed one per cent of the project workforce or a maximum of 20.