India on the lookout for entrepreneurs

India is looking to introduce a new immigration category for entrepreneurs and researchers.

A senior government official told the Economic Times that the proposal, mooted by Indian policy think tank Niti Aayog, was being discussed at the highest level and the country could in future issue this new category of visas to a select few based-on set criteria.

“Human capital is one of the key pillars contributing to the innovation quotient of a country,” the official said. “Encouraging high-skilled immigration will foster healthy competition and go a long way in improving the quality of domestic skills.” According to the official, the idea was to establish a centralised system for granting entrepreneur visas based on criteria including novelty in technology, sector, job creation potential and ease of dissemination of products or service, among other things. India could also set up international centres to facilitate document verification and offer some initial handholding.

“The idea is to complete the feasibility analysis of this project by next year and set up the required mechanisms by 2020,” the official added. Entrepreneurs coming to India are either issued business or employment visas, both of which put conditions on the visitors, such as annual registration with the police and requirement of leaving the country periodically. They need to return to their home country for renewal of the visas and there is no provision of permanent residency. While India issues research visas, most people choose to apply for tourist permits if they are visiting the country to conduct research informally and won’t stay in the country for more than six months.

The current process to get research visas is complex and takes time. An expert panel on innovation and entrepreneurship has recommended also harnessing the Non-Resident Indian talent pool for mentorship, skill development and expertise.

Niti Aayog has pushed the idea through its Three-Year Action Agenda.

Article published 5th September 2017