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A Guide to Working Abroad in India

The land of mystery is opening up as a land of great opportunity. Recent factors and developments have placed India among the fastest growing economies in the region, which has prompted many people to extend business trips to permanent careers in India. This is not just about adding an exotic location to your resume, it is about gaining valuable experience working abroad in India, a country on its way to becoming an economic superpower. The majestic Himalayas, Hindu culture and heritage, the bright colors of festivals, now come with the additional lure of lucrative work in India.


Understandably those looking for work in India have always found New Delhi, the political capital, and Mumbai, the financial capital, the most promising metropolises. They are also way ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to ease of living, access to amenities, networking potential, variety of jobs available, and sheer number of job openings.

Bengaluru and Hyderabad have been traditional hotspots for those in the IT and ITES sectors; the former enjoying an upper hand for its pleasant, year-round weather. 

Goa, the idyllic beach state, has gained more and more of the enterprise spirit. It has witnessed the mushrooming of hospitality and art outlets, though many function only seasonally. Goa also offers a smattering of avenues in retail sales, like books, clothes, or food items; many foreigners have been successfully running shops there for years. 

Pune has also joined the brigade of fast-growing and ever-promising cities with Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Calcutta fast catching up. There are a myriad of jobs in India throughout these cities, ranging from hospitality, to real estate, to Information Technology.

Raipur, is the capital of Chhattisgarh, and the government has big plans for its development, meaning it could be a haven for those with an entrepreneurial streak. It is a lovely location, but is occasionally troubled by extremist elements. The ambitious plans are already visible as the “New Raipur” begins to spread around the old Raipur.

Jobs & Positions

Head north! Projections favor northern India when it comes to nation-wide job opportunities. Trade bodies are estimating that there will be 87 million jobs available in the area by 2015! More than one third of this will be from the manufacturing sector closely followed by trade and then by construction, Information Technology, ITES, travel, and tourism.

Though there are large numbers of vocational colleges in India with thousands of students graduating each year, their employability levels are unfortunately low. This results in many Indian companies searching for foreign workers with the talent to fill their open jobs in India. Also, many local companies, having spread their wings within the country, are looking to expand abroad – these companies are also potential recruiters of international workers. The reverse is also common, though many individuals do not consider following their job to India if it is outsourced. There might be a cut in salary but the cost of living is lower as well and the experience working abroad in India is priceless. 

Jobs in India in the IT and ITES industries have always been a magnet for foreign job seekers. The potential for growth in sectors like infrastructure, hospitality, retail, and pharmaceuticals are also finding an increasing number of takers. As far as teaching in India goes – essentially considered a volunteering activity – language institutes offer decent remuneration for native speakers with required qualifications. 

Work Schedule. Across sectors and companies, regardless of revenue or reputation, the number of working hours is set at 48 per week; the work day usually runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a 30 minute to one hour lunch break. India law also states that overtime should be compensated with double the regular wage. 

Language. The typical job profile of an international worker in India does not require or expect the employee to have a working knowledge of Hindi, but it can be very helpful, in the work environment especially. The firang (foreigner) that offer clipped or improper “Namaste” has always been a source of incredible amusement for the locals. 

Salary & Affordability

The best way to gauge what your salary will be working in India is to ask yourself two questions: “Did you get the job through a local contact?” and “Do you occupy a mid to low level position in the company?” In both cases your salary could range from a bit over $300 to $800, but seldom more. This may sound extremely low compared to many salaries in the Western Hemisphere, but it is important to remember the cost of living is much lower. 

Also, if you have been sent to work in India by your existing company or you have been fortunate enough to procure a higher position in the company, locally or otherwise, things will be different. In bigger companies, the salary for senior positions generally starts at $1,600 and over.

Supplemental Salary. Depending on the company, there are often perks and allowances involved in jobs in India. The usual benefits can include rent costs, a maid, and/or driver being covered by the company you work for, but some offer paid vacations and even dating allowances too! It is also important to note that foreigners who work in India generally earn more than their Indian counterparts. 

(The salary ranges mentioned here apply to Delhi or Mumbai; in the other towns mentioned it will be lower, but the cost of living is also lower). 

Accommodations & Visas

Accommodation is easy to find and the most popular option among those who choose to work in India is to live in shared apartments. Typically you will have to shell out anywhere from $80 to $160 for a one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment, depending on the location and amenities offered.

If you do not have a flashy lifestyle then use public transport while working in India because most cities have decent public transportation put in place by the Metro railway project. Utilizing public transportation will help you make your rupee go farther too.

The government of India has taken many steps to ensure free mobility of international workers, but the paperwork to work in India is still lengthy. If you plan to work in India long term you have to arrive with an Employment Visa already arranged. However many people manage to get a job after they have arrived India too. It is possible to enter India with a variety of visas, such as business, project, tourist, or visitor visas. In this case, if you obtain work in India, it is necessary to return to your home country and return with the Employment Visa in place. 

Several years ago the system was given a bit of an overhaul and the rules more strictly enforced because foreign companies were bringing in low-skilled workers in large numbers to work on on-going projects and not documenting them properly. 

How To Get Your Employment Visa. Your employer in India will send you a detailed appointment letter, which is required to state specifically why a qualified Indian was not found to fill the job in India. This is a common visa requirement in many countries and helps curb the influx of semi or unskilled manpower. The letter will basically outline why your skills are unique and necessary. The employer will also need to send a a tax liability letter (where the employer takes the responsibility for paying your taxes). These are the largest steps in the process to work legally in India, and although they may sound complicated, are actually quite simple once you have an employer to assist you. 

Generally work visas are easy to come by and shouldn’t take more than a few working days to secure. Extensions of up to 15 days are possible for most types of visa, but extensions of Employment Visas are granted only the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. 

Benefits & Challenges

Know Your Neighbors. Culturally Indians are a warm lot who will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable around them. They are extremely used to close or even cramped quarters, so leave your personal bubble at home and accept the culture with open arms.

Sexism & Bureaucracy. These are two of the most negative aspects of living and working in India. Women are treated differently and have strict expectations placed on them.

Demand for International Workers & the Improved Workplace. Attracting and retaining skilled, foreign workers has become a priority for companies in India, so there has been a vast improvement in working conditions across industries. Well stocked cafeterias, gymnasiums, recreational facilities, additional training, and bonding trips have become the norm.

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A Guide To
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