Assessing travel and visa obligations in India

When traveling to India, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip, will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to India, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business and technical meetings
  • Purchase or sell industrial or commercial products and consumer items
  • Recruit manpower
  • Establish an industrial/business venture


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for India?

Most foreign nationals, including nationals of the United States and European countries, will be required to obtain a visa prior to travel if they intend to conduct business activities in India. In most cases, foreign nationals must obtain either a Business Visa (B Visa) from an Indian Embassy or Consulate, or e-Business Visa online, prior to travel.

Travelers participating in governmental or non-governmental conferences and events are required to obtain a consular Conference Visa, or e-Conference Visa online, prior to traveling to India.

In addition to the consular visa and e-visa options, nationals of Japan, South Korea, and the UAE are eligible to obtain a Visa on Arrival (VoA) for business or conference purposes. Additional eligibility restrictions may apply. Please consult with your immigration counsel prior to travel for an individual assessment to determine eligibility.

Working in India

What types of activities require work authorization?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Indian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in India, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Hands-on technical work
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Consulting


If I am traveling to India for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in India. The most common types of work authorization for India are:

  • Employment visa (work authorization for highly skilled and/or qualified professionals)
  • Film visa (work authorization for commercial filmmaking)
  • Intern visa (work authorization for students or recent graduates interning at a local Indian company, educational institute or non-governmental organization)
  • Project visa (work authorization for professionals in the power and steel sector executing a specific project)
  • Research visa (work authorization for scholars conducting research work or attending a research conference, seminar or workshop)


Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

There are no work authorization exemptions available for India.

What else should I know?

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.