The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a scheme allowing foreigners to settle in the country if they bring significant investment.
High net worth foreigners will get Permanent Residency Status (PRS) if they invest a minimum of Rs 10 crore within 18 months or Rs 25 crore within 36 months.
Granted first for 10 years, with multiple entry, the PRS can be extended for another 10 years. "The scheme will be applicable only to foreign investors fulfiling the prescribed eligibility conditions, his/her spouse and dependents," went a Cabinet statement. Also, PRS holders will be allowed to purchase one residential property for dwelling purposes.
There is a rider — the recipient investor must hire a minimum of 20 people. Also, it will not apply to nationals of Pakistan or China.
The scheme is aimed to draw foreign investment and facilitate the Make in India Programme. The government credits the latter, launched in September 2014, as well as friendlier investor policies to have boosted foreign direct investment by 25 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively, in the past two financial years.
Total foreign direct investment inflow was $36 billion in 2013-14, rose to $44.2 billion in 2014-15 and $55.4 bn in 2015-16, the highest so far in a year.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had revealed the proposal for long-term residency in February, without providing details. Currently investors may get business visas for up to five years.
According to existing rules, all foreigners (including those of Indian origin) visiting on a long term (more than 180 days) student visa, medical visa, research visa or employment visa are required to book with the Foreigners Registration Office concerned, having jurisdiction over the place the person intends to stay, within 14 days of arrival. Pakistani nationals have to register within 24 hours of arrival.
Various places — Singapore, Hong Kong, America, Canada, others — offer residency status for foreign entrepreneurs in return for investment.
More visa rule changes are possible. The commerce ministry has proposed an easier regime, to promote trade in services. "We have been recommending (an easy visa regime) to improve tourism and certain service sectors, including medical tourism. We from the the ministry wanted e-visas and visa on arrival, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said.