@Andreas Krensel introduced the fabulous panel and set the tone for the session. “All economies want foreign direct investment. In 1st world countries or developed economies, it is easy to retain talent. However, people want to move from 3rd to 2nd to 1st world country. Although there are a few financially independent, digital nomads or highly qualified who for adventurers, for love, for exciting jobs with potential to make a difference, and entrepreneurs who don’t want to have a mature market – look for new countries. We had @Ana Gazarin from @EmployeeMobilitySolutions America, @KayKutt from @Silk Relo Asia,@PreetiRoongta from @Lexagent India and @Andreas Krensel from @IBN Africa on the panel.
Our first thoughts when we heard the topic were: these regions/countries traditionally loose talent. So, how do countries like ours compete for and retain talent?
It is clear that to retain all our own talent in country is nearly impossible, migration is a human fact, but if the country is politically stable and offers great economic opportunities, then talent usually stays. Today’s economic development, cost of living, expectation of a standard of living and ease of mobility has accelerated migration.
1. The first topic of discussion was “Retain trained foreign talent”. How easy is it for foreign graduates of universities to enter the job market? Do they get an automatic right to work for X number of years? Do they get an easier entry into the job market compared to other foreigners, is there a special work permit category?
a) @Preeti Roongta: As of January 2021, more than 1 million Indian students are studying in 85 countries outside India. More than 50% of Indian students study in North America (Wikipedia). Against this only around 3.33 lakh foreign students arrived in India from over 160 countries around the world in the last five years, 2016 to 2021, with 2019 witnessing the highest number of foreigners, as per the data. Almost 75,000 students chose India for pursuing their studies in 2019 while 72,268 students came in the year 2018 (https://news.careers360.com/14-more-foreign-students-opt-for-studying-in-india-in-2021#:~:text=Around%203.33%20lakh%20foreign%20students,came%20in%20the%20year%202018.) One of the most prominent reasons why Indian students study abroad, is Employment. Students prefer to study abroad and get an international qualification as it boosts their career prospects. Apart from the qualifications, graduates receive higher salaries and get more job opportunities. Foreign students who study in India do not have access to employment market as the Indian market is full of skilled manpower and fresh graduates are available in ample numbers.
2. The second topic of discussion was “Attract highly skilled foreigners”. Here we discussed about work permit options, special skill category, processing times etc. Do applicants need a job offer or do the countries offer a job seeker permit for X months? Does our country have a scorecard, if yes, how is it structured? Are there quota? How does this category of work permit compare to other work permits?
Are there sectors with special permits? Are there salary thresholds? How big is the transfer of skills idea to locals?
b) @Preeti Roongta: Since 2018, India now has 5 different Employment Visa categories which cater to a wide range of situations of employment. Indian employment visa is meant only for highly skilled category of visitors. Intern Visas are also available for internships under VIE or AIESEC exchange programs. The employment or internship visas are only granted if there is a confirmed employment or internship contract. Job seeker Visas are not granted so far by India. Steel and power projects have a special visa category and are very popular among short term project workers. The minimum salary threshold for employment visa is USD 25000 per annum.
3. The third topic was “Dependent Visas for Spouse, unmarried partners, and same-sex partners”. The questions raised were: Do spouses get automatic right to work or not? Life partners allowed or only spouses, how is this proven? What should countries offer these days to be competitive? We also briefly discussed about children, teenagers who would love to enter the job market, even if part time, can they do that?
c) @Preeti Roongta: Currently India offers dependent visas only to married partners (spouses). While spouses cannot work in India, they CAN engage in a lot other activities like: learning yoga and meditation. India is a land of Yoga and this is the perfect time for them to learn yoga. Ayurveda and medicines, socialize and enjoy the travels around India…the list is endless. @PuneExpatClub is an initiative by Lexagent India. This was created to help expats and their spouses to network.integrate.enjoy their stay in India. As soon as the expat family arrives, the social calendars start to fill-up as they start participating in curated events bringing expats together. In some cases co-habiting long term partners are also beneficiary of the dependent visa. Same-sex partners can only use the Tourist visa right now. Part time work is not defined and hence there are no definitive rules around it. Internships in the form of voluntary work is acceptable.
4. The fourth topic was the most interesting “Entrepreneurs / Residence by investment”. We discussed about the option of residence by investment = long term residence if you invest X amount in country and how?d. Preeti Roongta: Indian launched the PRS (Permanent Residency Status) program in 2018. Since then this has been granted to only 1 German couple. Lexagent assisted this family get Indians first and only PRS so far. There is hope. We are seeing increased interest in the scheme now and already have a few inquiries in the pipeline. PRS requires an investment of INR 20,00,00,000 or USD 2.5 million over a period of 36 months. Employ up to 20 locals. PRS is granted for 10 years in the beginning and can be extended for another 10 years. This can also be used to apply Indian citizenship.
d) @Preeti Roongta: Indian launched the PRS (Permanent Residency Status) program in 2018. Since then this has been granted to only 1 German couple. Lexagent assisted this family get Indians first and only PRS so far. There is hope. We are seeing increased interest in the scheme now and already have a few inquiries in the pipeline. PRS requires an investment of INR 20,00,00,000 or USD 2.5 million over a period of 36 months. Employ up to 20 locals. PRS is granted for 10 years in the beginning and can be extended for another 10 years. This can also be used to apply Indian citizenship.
5.What are countries doing to attract start-ups, are there special visa for this? Other entrepreneurs? What are the criteria regarding: minimum investment amount, can it be reduced and if so how and to how little? Is third party funding allowed (huge topic for start-ups) or must the foreign direct investment come from applicant?; how many local employees must be employed in which time frame?
How fast can such people apply for PR? Are there extra hurdles?
e) @Preeti Roongta: Indian start-up visa category is primarily the business visa category. The government has made certain provisions and tax breaks for start-ups, however the visa category does not have any special “Start-up Visa”.
The closing note stated that historically the regions are talent exporters and still a lot of work has to be done by many stakeholders to convert these regions from net exporter to an attractive destination for large number of expats to move-in. The world order is changing, but not soon enough. The inherent challenges of burgeoning population, hustle to move to a developed country, desire a better quality of life and the associated status of living in a ‘foreign country’ will prove to be strong obstacles. The countries are doing their bit to change this, but how much is enough is still to be seen.