How to move to
Find A Job
India is a fascinating but challenging country in which to find work and your success in doing so as an expat will very much depend on the sector in which you specialize. People working in engineering, education, medicine, technical industries, accounting and legal work are likely to have the highest chance of success and to be granted a work visa. If you already work for an international company which has a branch in India, and would like to be transferred, this is also a possible option.
The Indian government state that you will stand the best chance of being successful in your visa application if:
• you are highly skilled and working at a senior level (a visa will not be granted for clerical or secretarial work, for example)
• there is not a qualified Indian who could do your prospective job
• the company must be either registered in India or is an international company undertaking work in the country
• you must be earning over $25K a year (there are some exceptions to this, for example translators and some teaching staff)
• you must comply with all legal requirements, such as paying tax
• your company must be clearly stipulated in the visa
• you will need a sponsor (this does not necessarily have to be your employer) however, your company is responsible for your conduct while you are in India
You will need to supply the following documentation:
• passport (valid for at least a year and contain three blank pages)
• copy of the first pages of your passport
• visa application form
• additional work visa application form (to be downloaded on Indian Visa Online)
• your employment contract, written in English and referring to the duration and conditions of the contract
• your resume (in English)
• tax liability details
• copies of your diplomas and qualifications
• a copy of your employer’s registration certificate
Your visa may be for the duration of one year, regardless of the length of time of the actual contract, but it can if necessary be extended for 5 years by the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FFRO).
As above, workers in senior management or highly skilled employees in specific sectors are likely to continue to be in demand. You will not need to be bilingual in any of the main Indian languages (although this will be appreciated): the main business language of India remains English, a legacy of the Raj.
However, this also means that teaching English (TEFL) is not as much in demand as it is in other countries, although the British Council runs a programme, Teach India, with a number of educational institutions. Places are said to be very competitive but if you have a degree, a TEFL qualification, and experience, this should stand you in good stead.
You may also be able to procure a short-term internship, for instance, in a STEM sector.
Major industries are:
• food processing
• information technology (IT)
• the auto industry
Some of the coastal areas have vacancies in the hospitality industry and summer jobs – for example, in camps for children or conservation projects. A large number of jobs are available in the northern cities, but Bengaluru in the south has seen a tech boom in recent years.
Working hours are capped at 48 hours per week and 9 hours a day, although some expats warn that there are companies which flout this, preferring to pay the fine rather than stick to the existing legislation, particularly in white collar industries (factories are held more closely to the law). A one-hour lunch break is typical for an 8 hour day.
The minimum wage from 2020 is expected to be in the region of 160IR (€2.09) per day, somewhat down from the 178IR (€2.25) legislated for in the recent overhaul of the wage system and the establishment of a minimum wage.
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act of 2017 has increased the duration of paid maternity leave from an existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. You will be eligible on full pay if you have been working for a company for 80 days in the year prior to delivery. It is estimated, however, that this only benefits around 1% of working Indian women. As an expat, especially if you work for an international company, you can expect to earn more and also be able to claim maternity benefit.
Your spouse will be able to work if they are able to obtain a separate work permit. If both of you are professional and of a senior status, or have specialist skills, then it should be possible.
Note that if you bring your dependents into the country on the basis of employment, they will be issued with an X-visa with the same expiration date as your employment visa. If your spouse comes in on an X-visa, and then wishes to take up employment, they will need to leave the country and apply for an employment visa.
Note, too, that an employment visa and a business visa are different documents: the latter will be applied if you are coming in and out of India for business reasons.
Websites and the local press are good sources of information, but depending on your sector, you can also use international recruitment agencies as well. If you are on the ground in India, networking and word of mouth remain helpful when it comes to vacancies.
You can also make speculative applications to companies.
Applying For A Job
A standard CV/resume is recommended: most applications can be made online, after which you will be asked to attend an interview if a prospective employer wishes to take this to another stage.
Under Article 14 of Indian law, discrimination is outlawed on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth. In practice, however, inequalities remain within the country. Women, for instance, are paid significantly less than their male counterparts so do not be surprised if you encounter institutionalized sexism.
Qualifications And Training
You will stand a significantly better chance of gaining employment in India if you are at a senior or specialist level. Qualifications are highly regarded in the country and it is recommended that you send full details when applying for work. You may also wish to have your qualifications apostilled.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
If you are planning to visit India, whether as a tourist or as a potential expat, you will need to apply for a visa. Read on to learn more about the application process. Although the bureaucracy can be complex, it is not impossible to navigate.
Citizens of most countries require a visa to enter India. There are some exceptions however. For example, if you hold a diplomatic passport, then you may be exempt. There are also exemptions for citizens from a few select countries, such as Bhutan and Nepal.
Otherwise, all foreign nationals entering India will need a valid international travel document, in the form of a passport, as well as either a valid visa from an Indian mission/post, or an e-visa from the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs. The Indian government has now introduced one-month, one-year, and five-year electronic visas for citizens of most countries. The nature of your visa will depend on the purpose of your visit. The kinds of visa available include:
• Tourist visas
• Business visas
• Employment visas
• Intern visas
• Research visas
• Student visas
• Journalist visas
• Film visas
If you will be staying in India for less than 72 hours, you can obtain a transit visa. To secure this, you will need to be able to show that you have a confirmed airline booking for your onward journey when applying. Otherwise, you will need a tourist visa. How long your tourist visa lasts will depend on your nationality.
Citizens of the United States, Canada and Japan can apply for tourist visas that are valid for up to 10 years. Five-year tourist visas are increasingly becoming available for people from most nations in which biometric enrolment facilities are available. Otherwise, tourist visas are generally issued for three months, six months, or one year. They are usually multiple-entry.
Note that your visa will be valid from the date it is issued, not from the date you arrive in India.
For an Indian tourist visa, you will need:
• A passport that is valid for at least six months, and which contains at least two blank pages
• A recent passport-size photo (currently this would be a square photo, two inches by two inches, but make sure you check the requirements when you apply, as they can change)
• Details of your itinerary
You may also need copies of your flight tickets and proof of your residential address.
You can apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which is available for the citizens of over 40 countries, including those who are eligible to apply for a visa on arrival.
An application for an e-visa must be made at least four calendar days before you arrive in India, and it can be made up to 120 days in advance. The visa will be valid for one year from the date you arrive. You cannot exceed a 90-day limit on a continuous stay during each visit on an e-tourist visa, unless you are a citizen of Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom or the United States. If you have an e-business visa, you are allowed to stay for 180 days, irrespective of your nationality.
The e-visa has five sub-categories:
• e-Tourist visa
• e-Business visa
• e-Medical visa
• e-Medical attendant visa
• e-Conference visa
Your e-visa will be valid for 60 days from the date of your arrival in India, with a few exceptions. For example, if you have an e-conference visa, it will only be valid for 30 days from the date you arrive. Double-entry is permitted on the e-tourist visa and the e-business visa. Triple-entry is permitted on the e-medical visa and e-medical attendant visa. Only single-entry is permitted on the e-conference visa.
The cost of your visa will be between US$80 and US$100, depending on your nationality.
It takes between five and 10 days to process a tourist visa. Turnaround on an e-visa is likely to be faster, as it is an online process, but you should leave plenty of time for processing.
People working in engineering, education, medicine, technical industries, accounting and the legal sector are likely to have the highest chance of success in getting a work visa. You are also likely to be successful if you work for an international company that has a branch in India, and are planning to be transferred.
The Indian government states that you will stand the best chance of being successful in your visa application if:
• You are highly skilled and working at a senior level (a visa will not be granted for clerical or secretarial work, for example)
• There is not a qualified Indian who could do your prospective job
• You are earning over $25K a year (there are some exceptions to this, for example for translators and some teaching staff)
The company must be either registered in India or be an international company undertaking work in the country, and they must be clearly stipulated in your visa. You must comply with all legal requirements, such as paying tax. You will also need a sponsor – this does not necessarily have to be your employer, but they will be the one responsible for your conduct while you are in India.
You will need to supply the following documentation:
• Your passport (this must be valid for at least a year and contain three blank pages)
• A copy of the first pages of your passport
• Your visa application form
• An additional work visa application form (which can be downloaded on India Visa Online)
• Your employment contract (this must be written in English and must refer to the duration and conditions of your contract)
• Your resume (in English)
• Tax liability details
• Copies of your diplomas and qualifications
• A copy of your employer’s registration certificate
Your visa may be for the duration of one year, regardless of the length of time of your actual contract, but if necessary you can extend this for five years by applying to the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FFRO).
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
The best place for expats to start their search for a rented home is with an estate agent. Despite a high commission charge (usually equivalent to one month’s rent), their local knowledge and language skills can prove invaluable to foreigners hoping to settle in India. There is a huge variety of available accommodation, including various sizes and styles of houses, studio flats, larger apartments, and luxury properties.
You can, of course, search for a place to live without the help of an estate agent. There are plenty of English-language newspapers published in India that list available accommodation.
Another popular way to find a home is online, and some of the best websites to check are:
Some landlords in India may insist that you meet certain criteria, which can appear strange if you are unfamiliar with the country and its culture. For example, if you are single and looking to rent a property in India, some landlords may not approve, particularly if you are an unmarried woman. One way to potentially get around this discrimination is to provide a character reference. In Southern India particularly, landlords may also specify that you cannot prepare meat or fish within their property.
It is worth noting that properties advertised as unfurnished are likely to be without white goods, including ovens, washing machines and refrigerators.
As well as navigating unfamiliar rules in the renting process, you will need to think about how much you are willing to pay. Rent in Indian cities is exceptionally reasonable compared to in the United Kingdom, but security deposits can be far higher. For a flat in a city centre, you can expect to pay anything between 8,000 INR (£84.66) and 20,000 INR (£211.74) per month. The deposit a landlord may request can vary from the standard two months’ rent to as much as ten months’ rent, especially in bigger cities like Bangalore.
Rental agreements tend to be informal in India. It is important, however, to get something in writing, so that you have proof of residence (something you will need if you later wish to purchase property in India). Payments will usually be made in cash or by cheque (cheques must be from an Indian bank), so always remember to ask for a receipt for any payments made to your landlord. The more documentation pertaining to the property you can obtain, the better your chances of a secure tenancy.
The standard rental period in India is 12 months. However, it is far more common to be asked to sign an 11-month contract. This is due to local rental control laws that come into effect when a lease is a year long. Although a 12-month contract would give you more legal protection, shorter agreements offer greater flexibility, and are consequently more popular with landlords.
Landlord requirements vary, however, and you may find one who is happy to accept a longer or shorter arrangement. Either way, you must give at least two months’ notice if you intend to leave the property before the lease expires.
Now more than ever, many expats are looking at buying property in India, due to its up-and-coming economy. Popular areas for low-cost accommodation include Goa and Kerala. However, unless you are living in India at the time of purchase, you will be unable to buy property if you do not have Indian heritage, and proof thereof.
To purchase property as a non-Indian resident, you must satisfy the following conditions:
• You must have valid work and residence permits
• You must usually reside in the property you are buying
• The purchase of the property must be made via an Indian bank
• Any income from the rent or sale of the property must not be repatriated
Additionally, citizens from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Iran are prohibited from buying property in India.
It is recommended that expats hire an English-speaking lawyer to assist in the property-buying process. Local property lawyers that know the market and can also speak the language are of huge benefit to expat buyers. They can also help ascertain the legitimacy of certain documents. Legal fees are typically 1.5% of the total purchase price.
Buyers should insist that payment is made by cheque rather than in cash, in order to trigger a paper trail. On top of the price of the property, other fees, such as stamp duty and property registration fees, will apply. If you use an estate agent to assist with the process, you can expect to double your non-property related costs.
Prospective buyers who need to take out a mortgage are in a strong position in India currently. Whilst mortgage interest rates are relatively high, they are often lower for foreigners than for local citizens.
To apply for a mortgage in India, you must first choose a bank to work with and open an account with them. You may be required to present a guarantor, who must be a family member or a close relative resident in India. Alongside a completed mortgage application form, you will need to provide the following documents:
• Photo identification (e.g. passport or driving licence)
• Proof of address
• Employment contract
• Bank statements (six months’ worth)
• Photos of the property you wish to purchase
• Property documents
It is important to allow plenty of time for your application to be assessed before it is approved.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: India health insurance
The Indian healthcare system is one of the largest in the world, but around 1 million of the country’s citizens do not benefit from health coverage. India spends around 1% of its GDP on healthcare: in global terms, this is very low. In 2014, an NSSO survey found that 80% of Indians did not have any health insurance cover. Only 18% (government funded 12%) of the urban population and 14% (government funded 13%) of the rural population was covered under any kind of health insurance.
There is technically a public healthcare system which offers universal care that is free at the point of delivery, but in practice most Indians end up using the private sector, in which quality and costs can vary considerably.
The federal states govern healthcare, including regional hospitals, clinics and national hospitals, and health insurance itself.
There are a number of national health insurance plans, which are still currently in place despite the introduction of a new scheme, which we will outline below. These are:
• National Health Insurance Program (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana / RSBY): this was founded in 2007 and is governed by the Ministry of Health. The national government funds 75% and the individual states fund 25%. The scheme covers 29 federal states and is designed to provide insurance for one worker and four dependents, if they are not covered by an existing scheme and are below the poverty line. It covers around 40 million families.
• Employees State Insurance / ESI: covering organized private sector workers, around 55 million people. This was designed for organisations with more than 12 employees whose monthly wage does not exceed Rs21,000. In practice, the majority of employed expats fall under ESI.
• Central Government Insurance Scheme: covering central government agents and retirees, around three million people.
There are also several federal schemes local to particular regions:
• Andhra Pradesh: covering families below the poverty line or with annual income below INR 75,000. It covers around 70 million people.
• Tamil Nadu: covers families below the poverty line or with annual income below INR 72,000: around 40 million people.
• Karnataka: covering members of rural cooperatives, more than three million people.
However, the government announced in 2018 that it would be introducing a new, fully comprehensive health insurance scheme, colloquially called Modicare. Under the new scheme, organized by Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM), around half a billion of India’s poorest people will be eligible for up to RS500,000/ $7,000 in hospital costs, financed by the government, and free to the patient.
The scheme also aims at a $165-million spend to establish 150,000 health and wellness centers across the country, offering comprehensive primary healthcare including free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The first of these was set up in April 2018. The scheme had a soft launch, anticipating being overwhelmed by high demand, but it has had its critics, who suggest that it was primarily a pre-election publicity exercise.
The government is anticipating an annual spend of $1.3 billion - $1.6 billion on the NHPM, financed by central and state governments in addition to union territories.
Contributions under ESIC are compulsory. Your employer should sign you up with the system, but make sure that they have done so as some expats have reported finding that they are not in fact registered with ESIC. If your employer has not registered you with ESIC, you will need to ask your company’s HR department to do this for you; you cannot sign up by yourself.
Open A Bank Account
Department stores, hotels and upmarket restaurants in India all accept credit cards and debit cards.
You will be asked to enter your PIN number when making a credit or debit card transaction. However, Visa contactless payments are now available at some leading retailers including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Big Bazaar and some outlets of Costa Coffee. The maximum amount you can spend in one contactless transaction is ₹2000.
Some vendors will allow you to pay with your credit or debit card using a magnetic swipe machine. Take care not to let your card out of your sight during this process, as this will guard against fraud.
If your credit or debit card was issued abroad, you will incur exchange rates that may not be optimal, and you will get charged a foreign exchange fee for each transaction. If you are going to live in India for more than six months, there is a clear financial benefit to obtaining a card issued there, providing you meet the financial criteria for applicants.
It is important to remember that most of Indian society operates as a cash-based economy. Many families have too little income or live too far from branches to operate a bank or post office account. These families rely entirely on cash.
This means that if you need to pay a rickshaw fare, buy something from a small store or pay for a cheap meal, you’ll definitely need cash. Haggling may be required too! As American expat Elizabeth Huesing told ExpatFocus from her home in Chennai:
“There’s the morning haggle with a rickshaw driver over ten rupees too much or too little in fare. I usually cave in and pay the extra fare as it’s not much for me but a few more rupees for the driver’s family.”
Bringing Cash To India
The Indian government maintains strict control over the amounts of cash and jewellery that can be brought into or removed from the country.
Visitors and tourists may not bring any Indian cash with them. Instead, you must obtain Indian rupees from an ATM or foreign exchange bureau after you have arrived in the country. There are also limits on how much foreign currency can be brought into India.
Residents are allowed to bring in rupees, but the amount is controlled. Check with the Reserve Bank of India to see what rules apply to you at the time of travelling.
What Currency Is Valid In India?
The official currency of India is the Indian rupee. The currency code for the rupee is INR, with the symbol ₹. Each rupee is worth 100 paise.
The rupee trades in the USD/ING currency market under a regime known as a managed float. This means exchange rates continually fluctuate, but central banks buy and sell currencies in an attempt to keep their national currency’s exchange rate within certain parameters. If you are staying in India for the short to medium term, or you have investments abroad, the strength and expectations of the rupee will be important for your financial decisions.
In November 2016, the BJP government announced the withdrawal of ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes to crack down on forged currency. Between them, these notes represented 86 percent of the cash in circulation. The time scale for withdrawal caused long queues at banks and worries for expats about how to exchange the notes, particularly from outside the country. ExpatFocus examined these events in the article “What The New Money Laws In India Mean For Expats”.
New notes have been issued which meet better security standards. The current legal tender now consists of:
● Banknotes: ₹1, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500 and ₹2000
● Small Coins: 10 paise, 20 paise, 25 paise, 50 paise
● Rupee Coins: ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10.
A number of commemorative issues of coins have also been released, several as ₹10 coins. They were released in limited numbers and, whilst being legal tender, they are not designed for regular circulation.
If you live in an Indian city, you will be able to locate an ATM easily. In rural areas, they are harder to find.
You will need to input your four-digit PIN to proceed with an ATM transaction.
Normally ATMs are reliable sources of cash. However, following the withdrawal of the old ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes and the issue of the new ₹500 and ₹2000 notes, long bank queues developed and people experienced problems withdrawing cash from ATMs. During the first 13 days of April 2018, currency in circulation suddenly increased by $7bn, immediately followed by a shortage of cash able to be issued at ATM and bank branch counters in several Indian states. The reasons behind the April events are unclear, although money hoarding for tax avoidance purposes was suggested as part of the problem. Roughly one percent of the population pays personal taxes.
It is not anticipated that this problem will last long or become more widespread. However, it is a reminder that Indian systems and society can sometimes throw up unexpected problems.
Bank Accounts In India
India has a thriving IT sector offering outsourced technology services to companies around the Western world. In India, banks have long understood the benefits of offering online banking for their customers, and such technology is available.
However, while some bank customers eagerly sign up to these new ways of banking, uptake has wavered. In the aftermath of the banknote crisis of late 2016, mobile banking use climbed significantly, but then dropped back down in mid-2017. As an expat, this should not cause you a problem as your bank will offer you the chance to use the online services you are used to.
There are a number of banks you can choose from when opening a new account. All of the banks listed below employ English speakers.
● Yes Bank
You will need to prove your identity and legal right to stay in India. The bank will also want to check your source and level of income as part of the application procedure.
Theft And Fraud
India has great deprivation and poverty in a significant portion of its population. While this causes obvious and distressing hardship, it also provides an environment where individuals may learn to accumulate what they can by any means, regardless of whether they actually live in those conditions or simply wish to avoid doing so.
Being the victim of theft, fraud and scams can happen wherever you live. You should always be alert to the risks whatever your location. However, the unfamiliar noise, weather and chaos of India may make it harder to spot potential trouble, especially in an environment where you want to be pleasant and friendly.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been informed about train travellers being drugged and then robbed as they sleep. They advise you not to accept any friendly offers of food or drink from strangers.
The FCO also warns of a confidence trick prevalent in Goa, Agra and Jaipur involving jewellery. You will be asked to take jewellery abroad and promised a significant cash payment when you deliver the items. In return, all you need do is pay a cash deposit - which is substantial. You later discover that the jewellery is worthless and there is no delivery to be made. But your cash deposit has gone.
Finally, have a look at the ExpatFocus article “Five Things To Avoid Doing When You Move To India”. This includes advice about your conduct around beggars. Many of them are part of a begging gang, including the children, and as heart-breaking as it can be to walk past someone in obvious need, your money is better spent supporting a local charity which works with destitute people.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
India is an ancient and very diverse country, both culturally and linguistically, and you will find that many languages are spoken here. If you are intending to live and work in India, you may be asking yourself how easily you will be able to communicate, particularly if you are a native English speaker. We will take a look at this complex situation below.
Dauntingly, a census at the start of the 21st century revealed that India has 122 major languages and 1,599 other languages. Many of these are more properly described as dialects, but the linguistic heritage of the country is extremely rich and we will not attempt to list all of these languages here! However, the 23 official languages of India are as follows:
• Sanskrit (an official classical language)
• Tamil (an official classical language)
These languages belong mainly to two big linguistic groups:
• Indo-European (the branch of Indo-Aryan is spoken by about 75 percent of the Indian population)
• Dravidian (spoken by about 25 percent)
Other languages spoken in India come primarily from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families, as well as some isolated languages.
In 1950, after the country ceased to be a part of the British Empire, the Indian constitution declared Hindi in Devanāgarī script to be the official language of the union. Hindi, a linguistic descendent of Sanskrit, is still the official language of the Indian central government.
English is a provisional official sub-language, beneath Hindi itself as the official language. However, individual state legislatures can adopt any regional language as the official language of their state. For example, Tamil, one of the Dravidian languages, is an official language of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and the Andamon Nicobar Islands.
There are other languages spoken in the country as well, such as Persian, Portuguese or French.
India is thus linguistically very complex indeed. English is a co-official language in the country, and you will find that many Indians speak English, often with considerable fluency. It is estimated that around 12-30% of the country are English-speaking to some degree. English is widely spoken in large urban areas and tourist destinations such as Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai, but is rather less common in more rural areas and the north. In those regions, you will find that Hindi and some of the local dialects are more common. There is also a class differential between English speakers and non-English speakers: in general, poorer people will not speak English, whereas the higher status classes are more likely to do so.
If you are working in the country, it is likely that your workplace will be English-speaking. The number of languages across the country make it an impossibility to learn all of them, but you may like to learn some Hindi, or perhaps the main language in your region, such as Tamil or Punjabi, especially if you are likely to be travelling in rural areas. It is always polite as well as practical to master some basic phrases, such as those for:
• meet and greet
• days of the week/months of the year
• shopping and food-related vocabulary, including eating out
• some basic medical vocabulary (e.g. asking for a doctor’s appointment)
• some basic banking vocabulary (e.g. opening a bank account)
Hindi is not the easiest language for Westerners to learn, but if you are interested in learning Hindi you will find plenty of language training opportunities in India, from culturally immersive programmes which involve staying with a local family, to summer programmes, at different levels from beginners to advanced. Bear in mind that you will be working with a different alphabet. You can start with some online training resources before you land, if you wish.
You may be intending to visit India in order to teach. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). Note that there is not an enormous demand for English teachers: since the country is a former British colony, the governing classes – who are the ones able to afford language training – tend to be English speaking anyway, a legacy of the historical process.
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools. Bangalore is a current hot-spot for Business English, due to its emerging IT industry, so if you are an English teacher with some experience in tech, this could be a good opportunity for you.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree but Indian language schools do not always formally require this. Basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. Average monthly salaries for TEFL teachers are quoted as being in the region of US$600. The cost of living in India is not generally high, but accommodation can be expensive in the cities. Working in TEFL is generally regarded as being valuable for the experience rather than for the salary, although you will earn more at university level. Your most reliable opportunity for employment will be in the private international schools.
Choose A School
India spends around 3% of its GDP on education. Urban literacy rates are around 80% (higher amongst the young), while rural rates are lower at around 70%, reflecting the inequalities in the system.
State education in India, under the control of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, is in general terms not well funded, and faces many challenges to improve both quality and accessibility, including a general shortage of qualified teachers and materials, especially in rural areas.
Almost half of India’s primary and secondary schools are run privately (with strict controls), considerably augmenting the state system, and they are teaching around 30% of Indian schoolchildren. At the other end of the scale there are also over 900 hundred universities and 40,000 colleges in India.
Tuition for resident children is compulsory, and provided free of charge from age 6-14.
It is difficult to generalize in a country so vast and diverse, but most children will be taught in at least three languages: English, Hindi, and the local language. Although English is generally the medium of teaching in urban schools here, you will find that the lessons in rural areas tend to be taught in the local language with Hindi and English as second and third languages.
Indian languages are not easy for an anglophone to learn, and immersion facilities vary immensely from region to region, but it must also be remembered that children will pick up a new language far quicker than their parents!
Most Indian kindergarten facilities are state-funded, but not compulsory. Compulsory (and free) education lasts nine years:
• lower primary school – ages 6 – 10
• upper primary school – ages 11 – 12
• lower secondary school ages 13 – 14
• higher secondary school ages 15 – 18 (non-compulsory)
Students obtaining the necessary grades to enter upper secondary will be offered a choice of academic or commercial schooling. Those continuing their academic studies will attend higher secondary school for a further three years, while those electing for commerce or vocational college will be offered the chance to train for jobs in finance or technical fields, with varying periods of tuition.
After completing the full program, students will take a final exam – the Higher Secondary Certificate Examination (HSCE), with many successful students then going on to university here or elsewhere in the world.
Homeschooling is an option that many expats consider here, given the potential language issue and the relatively high cost of private tuition. Homeschooling is not specifically recognised in India, but it is becoming more widespread. There are no specific requirements, but children can sit IGCSEs as private candidates. Thorough research is required, and each state may have different ideas about homeschooling, but there are a number of local support networks who can offer some assistance if you choose this route for your children.
Many expats will still be looking at the possibility of having their children educated in private schools with tuition in their own language, and under their own national system if possible.
There are a vast number of private schools in India, many not-for-profit and state-regulated, with a considerable number running in English. There are also a number of fee-paying full international schools, many of which offer the popular International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), which is recognised worldwide.
Should you require it, day care for infants, and pre-school kindergarten (ages 3 - 6) can be arranged locally. Many of the international schools also have nursery facilities.
A few of the Indian international schools include:
• Parkwood School International, Andhra Pradesh (co-ed English Cambridge curriculum to IGSCE and A-Levels)
• The International School, Bangalore (English, boarding available, IGCSE, ans IBDP diploma level stream)
• Canadian International School, Bangalore (English, Cambridge and IB diploma years)
• Calorx, Gujarat (English, IBDP, Hindi & French from grade 1)
• Kairos Global School, Hyderabad (English, Cambridge to IGCSE
• Trivandrum International School, Kerala (English, Cambridge. Choice of ICSE or IGCSE, A-Levels or the IBDP)
• International School, Calcutta (English, British Council affiliated, IBDP, IGCSE and A-Level)
• American School, Bombay (English, American High School diploma curriculum, and IBDP)
• The British School, New Delhi (English, British curriculum, IGCSE, reception through to A-Level)
• The British School, Punjab (English, Cambridge British curriculum, IGCSE)
• Hebron School, Tamil Nadu (non-denominational Christian, English, British curriculum to A-Level)
• Kodaicanal International school, Tamilnadu (English, IBDP)
• Selaqui International School, Uttarakhand (ICS, IB Diploma for successful students)
There are many others to consider in most areas, some falling under French, German, or other systems.
It is vital to contact the school of your choice as soon as possible, as competition for places is generally fierce. Fees need to be established with the individual school, and those offering the full IBDP are generally expensive, especially at the senior level. Additionally, you are always advised with private and international schools to read the small print as some may have ‘capital investment’ fees for maintenance/enhancement, and other charges.
On graduation, local and international students may wish to continue their education either at one of the excellent universities here, or across the world. Successful graduation from an Indian school, with A-Levels or the IB, will ensure that your child has the best possible chance of continuing their education wherever they choose.