Can a fast-food restaurant employ a foreigner as a waiter or cashier?

Interesting question, isn’t it? Why are we not finding a Chinese, a British, or an African as a waiter or a cashier or a laborer in India?

To enter India, a foreigner has to possess two important documents, Passport and Visa. Passport is issued by their home country and Visa is issued by India. There are different types of Visas such as Tourist Visa, Business visas, Medical Visa, Student Visa, Employment visas, etc.

For someone to get into an Employment Contract in India, he must possess an Employment Visa (E Visa)

Conditions to get E Visa

Nature of job: The applicant should be a highly skilled and/or qualified professional, who is being engaged or appointed by a company/ organization/ industry/ undertaking in India on a contract or employment basis. (This means, E Visa shall not be granted for jobs for which qualified Indians are available or for routine, ordinary, secretarial or clerical jobs)

Minimum Salary: The company or employer in India should pay a minimum annual salary equivalent to USD 25,000. However, for ethnic cooks (or chefs), language teachers (other than English), translators, and staff working for Embassy/High Commission, the minimum salary limit is not applicable.

Professional Service: If the company has to hire a foreigner as a professional instead of employment, they can do so, after meeting the minimum payment criteria as given above.

Coaches and Artists: What about Sports Coaches? We see several foreign players in IPL Teams. Likewise, we also see foreign artists performing across India. Foreign artists can be hired by Hotels, Clubs, or other organizations on an employment basis. Foreigners can take up employment as coaches of teams or clubs.

Duration of E Visa – It ranges from 2 years to 5 years. For Government contracts, it can be for 5 years, IT Sector it is for 3 years and for others, it is for 2 years. The tenure can be extended up to a total period of 5 years.

Registration – If E Visa is for more than 180 days, then the foreigner has to register under FRRO/FRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Officers) within 14 days of arrival.  On registration, they will get a Resident Permit valid till the tenure of a Visa.

Foreigners in NGO – We find many foreigners doing honorary jobs in NGOs or Trusts. How is this possible? A foreigner who wishes to come to India for honorary work (without salary) with NGOs registered in India may be granted Employment Visa with special endorsement on his/her E Visa “TO WORK WITH NGO”. However, foreign nationals can draw a monthly honorarium not exceeding Rs.10,000.

Family Members: What about the family of foreign employees? Family members/dependents of a foreigner who is granted an `E’ visa shall be granted an `X’ visa. Its validity shall be coterminous with the validity of the visa of the principal visa holder.

Converting the Visa Type: Can you convert an Employment Visa to any other type of Visa? Can’t be converted. However, if he marries an Indian and wants to terminate the employment contract or falls ill which makes him unfit to travel, then E Visa can be converted to X Visa or Medical Visa.

Changing the employer: Can a foreigner change the employer? It is possible to find an alternate job, as poaching of talent is rampant among the companies. But Visa regulations don’t permit to switch employment so easily. Special permission is required from the Ministry of Home Affairs

Thus, a fast-food restaurant can’t employ a foreigner as a waiter or cashier as this is considered a routine job, even if the owner of a hotel is willing to pay USD 25,000 per year!  

The last question – How are Bangladeshis working in Estates, Restaurants across India as laborers? They are called illegal immigrants. Both employer and employee can be punished in such cases.

Without this last dose, I can’t complete this document. Overstaying in India is a criminal offense. The punishment for overstaying is a fine of US $30 per day and a jail term for up to 5 years.

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About B E Kumar Prasad

B E Kumar Prasad
He is a Practicing Chartered Accountant in Bengaluru, India. He has 25+ years of experience in income tax, business setup, and NRI matters. He is also an Insolvency Professional and Registered Valuer (F&SA).Prasad welcomes your comments and questions. Please email him at [email protected]

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