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Moving between India and the UK

Whether you are a UK citizen wishing to emigrate to India, or an Indian citizen looking to settle in the UK, moving between the UK and India can seem complex. But with the right guidance, the process can be simple.

Our immigration experts at IAS can assist you with your move and advice you about your emigration options. For more information, contact our team today on 0333 305 9375.

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    Moving to India from the UK

    With one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India is becoming an increasingly popular country for British expats. As well as business opportunities in the bustling cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, India’s diverse and vibrant culture also offers new and exciting experiences for UK citizens.

    The warm climate, low cost of living, stunning landscape and many historical sites are all reasons that draw British citizens to India, and it’s now home to over 30,000 British expats.

    India is vastly different from the UK, this makes many people nervous about moving, but with the right information and assistance, the emigration process to India can be simple.

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    Visas for UK citizens in India

    Before moving to India, you must apply for a visa. The type of visa that you will need varies depending on your reason for being in the country. The most common visas available to UK citizens who would like to move to India include the:

    • Employment visa
    • Business visa
    • Student visa
    • Entry visa (for persons of Indian origin as well as spouses and children of Indian citizens)

    There are also a variety of short-term visas for several situations including visiting as a tourist, accessing medical treatment, working as a journalist, mountaineering and attending an international conference. More information about all of the Indian visas is available on the website of the Indian High Commission. You can apply for one of the short-term visas online, also known as an E-visa application.

    The process to apply for long-term visas is also straightforward. First, you must complete the relevant online application form available here. Following this, you will need to book an appointment at your nearest visa VFS application centre. You must print your application form and your appointment confirmation letter and bring these with you to your appointment, alongside your passport and any other supporting documents required for the visa that you are applying for.

    Once you have given these documents in at your appointment and paid your application fee, your application will be processed. You can then either pick up your passport containing your visa from the application centre when it is ready or opt for it to be posted to you.

    It’s important to note that the validity of Indian visas begins on the date on the visa, not the date of travel.

    India Work Visa

    The Indian employment visa is for people who are employed by a company in India or intent to volunteer for a registered NGO in the country. Indian work visas are usually issued for 1 year but your visa may be issued for a different duration to this, this is up to the Consulate that grants your visa.

    You can apply to extend your visa for up to 5 years by going to your nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office when you are in India.

    To apply for a work visa, you will need:

    • A Passport that is valid for a minimum of 180 days with at least two blank pages.
    • Two recent 50 mm * 50 mm size photographs.
    • A completed and signed application form* and declaration.

    You’ll also need to have your biometrics taken when you make the application at your local visa application centre.

    To prove that you meet the requirements for this visa, you will also need:

    • A copy of an employment contract signed by both parties.
    • A copy of the Registration papers of Company/Companies in India offering the Employment.
    • Copy of educational qualification documents
    • UK citizens intending to volunteer for NGOs in India will need to supply proof of employment such as an invitation letter from the NGO, the name and place of work in India and the duration of the voluntary work

    Registering with a Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office

    If you are moving to India on a long-term visa than you must register with the nearest Foreigner’s Regional Registration office within 14 days of your arrival in the country.

    You will be issued your residential permit once you have registered which will be valid for the amount of time specified on your visa. If you would like to extend your residential permit, you should apply to do this at least two months before it’s expiry date. You can apply for an extension at your nearest registration office.

    It’s important to note that UK citizens residing in India are also required to register any absences of a period of 8 weeks or more. You must also register any changes of address and if you are leaving India on a more permanent basis that before you leave you will also need to inform a Registration Officer of your intention to leave either temporarily or permanently.

    If you plan to stop living in India then you must surrender your certificate of registration to the Registration Officer at the place that you either registered or intend to depart from.

    Living in India permanently

    Unfortunately, there is no path to permanent residency for foreign citizens in India unless they have Indian ancestry. The maximum amount of time that you can spend in the country is 5 years, after this, you will have to return to the UK to have your permission to live in India reassessed.

    However, there is a path for UK citizens to naturalize as Indian citizens after they have lived in the country for at least 12 years. To be eligible, UK citizens will also have to meet several other requirements and supply several documents to prove that they meet them, these include:

    • Having knowledge of at least one of India’s languages – you’ll need to language certificated
    • Meeting the good character requirements – you’ll need two statements from Indian citizens testifying to your character
    • Proving your intention to apply for Indian citizenship – You’ll need two newspaper (circulating in the district in which you reside) cuttings of different dates or of different newspapers notifying your intention to apply for citizenship.

    It’s worth noting that immigration law in India does not allow Indian citizens to hold dual nationality, this means that if you would like to apply for Indian citizenship you will need to renounce your British citizenship in the process.

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      Visas for British-Pakistani citizens

      The visa application process is different for British-Pakistani citizens and is unfortunately often a long process. If you are a British-Pakistani national then you must apply for an Indian visa using your Pakistani passport.

      The processing time for visa applications received from persons of Pakistani origin is 7-8 weeks or more.

      If you are a British-Pakistani citizen, then you will also be required to register at the local Foreigners Regional Registration Office within 24 hours of your arrival, rather than the usual 14 days.

      Moving to the UK from India

      Indian nationals make up the largest proportion of the UK’s migrant population and Britain is full of well-established Indian communities. Familial ties, career opportunities and education are all things that draw Indian citizens to the UK and Indian migrants have become incredibly important to UK culture and our way of life.

      There are many routes that Indian citizens can use to move to the UK, the right one for you depends on why you want to move to Britain and what you plan to do whilst here.

      UK visas for Indian citizens

      To travel to the UK, Indian citizens will need a visa. For visiting the UK, a tourist visa is available. However, if you plan to spend a long period of time in the UK, or even want to make the country your permanent home, there are many other visas and immigration routes available.

      The most common visas used to come to live in the UK include the:

      To be eligible for a UK visa you will have to meet the relevant requirements for your visa category, these often include requirements such as understanding the English language and proving that you can support yourself financially whilst in the country.

      Working in the UK

      There is a wide range of career opportunities for Indian nationals in the United Kingdom. In fact, many of the UK’s industries are propped up my Indian immigrants. For example, in the medical field, where over 20,000 doctors from India are registered to work in the United Kingdom.

      To work in the UK, Indian citizens will need to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. To be eligible for this visa you must have a job offer from a UK Sponsor company for a job at the appropriate skill level. As well as this, you will need to meet several other Skilled Worker Visa requirements including demonstrating your knowledge of the English language and meeting the relevant salary threshold.

      You may be exempt from having to meet some of the requirements if your job is on the Shortage Occupation List.

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        Settling in the UK

        Indian citizens can make the UK their permanent home through the UK settlement route called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Having ILR status will mean that you can live, work and study in the UK without being subject to time restrictions.

        To be eligible you usually need to have lived in the UK continuously for 5 years under an eligible visa. Many of the UK visas offer a route to ILR, just a few of them include the:

        • Spouse Visa
        • Ancestry Visa
        • Skilled Worker Visa

        It’s worth noting that your Indefinite Leave to Remain status can be revoked if you spend more than 2 years outside of the UK. So, whilst you can return to India, the UK must remain your permanent home.

        After you have held ILR status for 12 months, you could also be eligible to naturalize as a British citizen. This will give you the freedom to live, work and study in the UK free from immigration restrictions. Having British citizenship will also give you the right to a British passport and the right to vote in all UK elections.

        How can IAS help?

        The Immigration Advice Service is a law firm specializing in all areas of immigration law. So, whether you want to move to the UK, or are looking to migrate away from the UK, our reliable immigration lawyers will be able to assist you.

        Although IAS is based in the UK, our lawyers can assist clients from all over the world. So, if you are currently in India, we will still be able to help you. All of our lawyers offer appointments over the phone or via Skype call as well as in person.

        Our lawyers can guide you throughout your entire immigration journey, from offering reliable and professional immigration advice, assessing your eligibility for visas and assisting you with applications, they’ll be there for you every step of the way.

        Moving abroad can be complex and stressful, whilst it’s not a requirement to seek the help of an immigration lawyer, it’s highly advised that you do to give you a better chance of success and to help make the move less daunting. Our immigration lawyers have a proven track record when it comes to assisting with successful visa and settlement applications. They’ll ensure that you have everything that you need to apply and will be there to answer any questions that you may have.

        For more information on the services that our immigration lawyer offer, contact our friendly team today on 0333 305 9375.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The economy in India is growing rapidly, meaning there is an increasing number of career opportunities for British expats. As well as this, there are many other benefits of moving to India. This includes the ability to experience a vastly different culture, India is famous for its delicious food and the vast amount of historical and beautiful sites. Whether you’re exploring the capital city of New Delhi or visiting the incredible Taj Mahal, located in the city of Agra, there is much to experience.

                  As well as this the cost of living in India is significantly lower than in the UK, although rent prices can vary in the larger cities.

                  Moving to a new country can seem daunting, there are several things that you should do before you move to a new country.

                  • Make sure you have good health insurance, immigrants moving to the UK will be able to access the NHS but if you are moving from the UK to India you should make sure that you have health insurance before travelling.
                  • Make a note of the countries emergency numbers. The emergency number for the UK is 999. In India, the numbers are 100 for the police, 101 for an ambulance and 102 for the fire service.
                  • Decide where you want to live, the cost of living can vary greatly depending on whether you want to live in a city centre or somewhere more remote. Other factors may contribute to your decision of where to live including the employment opportunities, air pollution levels and the amount of diversity.
                  • Apply for the correct visa, the visa you will need will depend on what you plan to do in the country, if you don’t apply for the correct visa your application could be rejected or you may not have the right to do specific things such as work or study

                  For more information about moving abroad, speak to our immigration lawyers today on 0333 305 9375.

                  Unless you have Indian ancestry then the only way to settle in India permanently is to become an Indian citizen. This is possible after living in India for 12 years and meeting some other requirements. To become an Indian citizen you would also have to revoke your British citizenship.

                  You can still live in India for long periods without being a citizen, but every 5 years you will need to return to the UK to have your right to live in India reassessed.