What is an NRI?

A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a person who is a citizen of India, or is a person with Indian origins, but does not live in India anymore, i.e. is not a resident of India. The method to determine whether a person is a NRI is by following section 6 of the Income Tax Act 1961: a person whose primary residence is outside of India can be considered to be a resident of India if they fulfil any of these conditions:

  1. If they are in India for a period of 182 days or more in the previous year (120 days if your taxable income is over Rs. 15 lakhs); or
  2. If they are in India for a period of 60 days or more in the previous year, and a period of 182 days or more in the four years preceding the previous year; or
  3. If a person with an earning total income in excess of Rs. 15 lakhs (other than from foreign sources) is not liable to pay tax in any country.

How do Indian Tax Laws Impact NRIs

It is important to remember that while one year your status might be that of a NRI, it is quite possible that the next year you might fit into one of the above categories and you can be classified as a Resident. As a resident, your global income, meaning income earned both inside and outside of India, is taxable, whereas as a Non-Resident Indian, only income earned or accrued in India is taxable - that means even dividends given out by Indian companies can be taxable. Taxes can also be levied as a NRI on income such as gains from transfer of assets, salary earned by services provided in India, rent earned on properties in India, and interests on bank savings accounts and returns on fixed deposits.

What is Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Status?

Overseas Citizen of India is a permanent residency status that allows people of Indian origin and their families to be able to work and live in India freely. Despite the name, OCI status does not automatically give citizenship - it was rather an effective tool to expand the confines of dual citizenship for Indian citizens.

NRIs and routes to United States

As a NRI, you have a plethora of options to choose from if you want to travel, work and live in the United States. Each option has several advantages and disadvantages, and Davies & Associates can help you guide and pick which route would be a perfect fit for you in consideration with your circumstances and your wishes.

EB-5 Visa and Non-Resident Indians

The EB-5 programme is an immigrant visa established in the 1990 that helps foreign nationals and their families to establish themselves in the US and obtain permanent residency through substantial, job-creating investment. The EB-5 program operates a quota system of around 700 visas per country per years. Your quota is determined by your country of birth, not citizenship – so if you were born outside India, you will not be counted under India’s quota. This is helpful because India has high demand and is usually close to using up its quota each year. The EB-5 visa offers permanent US residency, which can later transition to citizenship.

E-2 Visa

The E2 Treaty Investor visa is a good option for investors who wish to manage and develop the business, especially since it allows entry to employees with essential skills, management, and other executives. The E2 visa can be extended indefinitely, as long as the business is still running in the U.S., and has no caps on it like the H1B visa, which makes it a preferable option to some; however, employees may consider to apply for the L-1 visa instead, since it is said to be easier to apply for a Green Card in the future. Indians are not directly eligible for the E-2 Visa and need to first obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. This has often proved popular for NRIs, by obtaining citizenship by investment of Grenada in the Caribbean, NRIs are able to establish a citizenship outside of India and become eligible for the E-2 Visa at the same time. Grenada does not have residency requirements so the NRI can continue to live in their country of residence, e.g. Dubai, Singapore, etc.

Click here to see the full list of E-2 Treaty Countries

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which can be used by active US employers or those who wish to establish in the US to send experienced and skilled employees from overseas to the US to grow or expand the business. There are two types of this temporary work visa - the L-1A is for executives and managers, and the L-1B visa is suited for high-level employees with specialised knowledge. The L-1 does not offer permanent residency but it is possible to transition to a Green Card and subsequently citizenship.

UK Residency & Citizenship for Non Resident Indians

Italian Residency & Citizenship for NRIs

Grenada Citizenship by Investment for NRIs

One of the newest programmes available to investors, it provides a second citizenship in Grenada provided the investor contributes $150,000 as a donation, or invests from $220,000 in a government approved real estate project and then maintains the property for five years. Other advantages include visa-free travel to 153 countries including China and EU Schengen countries, along with access to the U.S. E2 treaty investor visa. You do not need to visit Grenada to become a citizen, so it does not affect the existing residency of a Non-resident Indian, but provides an alternative to your Indian citizenship. India does not allow dual citizenship. Crucially for Non-Resident Indians, Grenada does not tax on income its citizens earn outside Grenada.

Read more about Italian immigration options

NRIs based in the United Arab Emirates

It might be surprising to find out that nearly 38% of UAE’s population is made up of Indian expats, i.e. almost 3,240,000 people. This can be a result of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between the UAE and India, coupled with the fact that there is virtually no income tax charged in the UAE.

Read specific information for Non-Resident Indians NRIs in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates

NRIs in Singapore

Similarly, Indians make up about 9% of the Singaporean population, about 348,000 people, and Malay and Tamil are even considered to be part of the official languages of Singapore. Singapore is considered to be especially attractive to expats due to its government policies and political stability, making it a prime location for real estate investment.

Read specific information for Non Resident Indians NRIs in Singapore

NRIs in South Africa

About 17% of the South African population is made up of Indians, nearly 1,000,000 people. South Africa is said to have the largest Indian population outside of India, and though a majority of that seems to be descendants of indentured labourers brought in the early twentieth century, increasing political alliances between India and South Africa and the widespread of Indian and Bollywood culture have also been incentives for NRIs to live there.

NRIs in Canada

Recent years have shown an astonishing number of NRIs moving to Canada; this is speculated to be due a result of the immigration policies of the Trump administration in the U.S., and the resulting difficulties to obtain a green card. There are more than 90,000 Indians identifying as permanent residents in Canada. Moreover, many tech companies, both American and Indian, have also opened affiliate offices in Canada, in addition to the Canadian government streamlining the work permit process for tech workers, making it a very attractive option.

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Eranjan Venura Parua
Eranjan Venura Parua
2 months ago

"After finding D&A through an internet search in 2020, my wife and I had several free consultations with David Cantor. Despite our initial attempt at filing for our E2 visa independently ending in failure, we decided to hire D&A for their expertise and support. Over the course of four long years, Verdie and Cristina were incredibly patient as we took our time to prepare for the E2 submission. Verdie became our E2 Attorney in 2021, and from the start, Verdie and Cristina's patience was evident. Despite our intermittent engagement over the years, they always treated us with the utmost attention. Working with Verdie and the D&A team was a pleasure; their professionalism and support were unwavering. Verdie's calm demeanor and succinct communication style made navigating the process much smoother, even during complex discussions. I wholeheartedly recommend Verdie and D&A - Davies & Associates, to anyone seeking an immigration law firm who can efficiently handle their case with precision and without unnecessary fanfare. Their ability to get things done speaks volumes about their dedication to their clients' success."

Jeremy Abernathy
Jeremy Abernathy
4 months ago

I had the pleasure of working with Verdie and Nessa to obtain my E2 Visa. Their in-depth knowledge and experience allowed me to be fully prepared in my application and they were able to answer all questions leading up to the Visa interview.

Saeed Muhammad
Saeed Muhammad
5 months ago

Verdie was an amazing attorney, providing exceptional client care throughout the process. He had a great depth of knowledge in all areas on business visas in the US.

Satyabrat Chowdhury
Satyabrat Chowdhury
8 months ago

I had a great experience with Davies & Associates. They are very thorough in the approach and their have experts in this field who know the domain very well.I would certainly be leaning onto them for any future needs as well.

Christine Envall
Christine Envall
a year ago

Getting my E2 Visa was a very in-depth process that took just over a year from when I committed to it, but 8 months from when I found a business I wanted to purchase. The only reason I'm giving 4 and not 5 stars is because the timeframe was a lot longer than expected from the initial information. Aside from the timing, Verdie and his team led me through the Visa process, providing all the guidance I needed to be successful, including advising me on the RIGHT type of Visa to suit my goals. Within the process I purchased a business and the greater Davies team included lawyer Rinat who helped me put the deal together. One of the biggest parts was my Business Plan which created from my info by Ana Ortiz, who did an incredible job. The process is certainly tedious and Verdie & Christina were always there to answer my questions, provide suggestions and advice and ensure I had all the documents I needed to support my application. I appreciated their patience with my questions and their advice and in the end, the application was so thorough the interview process was quick and easy. I highly recommend Davies & Associates and look forward to working with them again when it's time to renew my Visa.

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