A checklist to give to your expats employees.

India boasts of a rich and diverse culture across its geographical boundaries. India is divided into 29 states and each of these states has its unique cultural background be it food, festivals or the regional dialect. But, moving to India and getting acclimatized to the cultural changes can be overwhelming for some. For organizations, introducing expats to the Indian culture can be a complex process. For one, it’s impossible to give a deep insight into India all at once. However, a brief introduction to India can help your employees get off on the right foot. Here’s a curated checklist of some essentials, expats should know of, before moving to India.

  1. Visa Guidelines

The visa guidelines are the first and foremost thing that one should know about a country they are planning to move to. Before hiring expats you need to nail down the visa formalities and other guidelines like duration, renewal process etc. This is critical -so pay it more attention than anything else!

  1. Weather

Besides the Indian culture, expats often face difficulties in getting accustomed to the high temperatures and the high humidity in the country. You need to inform your incoming expats regarding the average temperatures during summer and winter in the city that the expats will be living in. You can help them in packing right for the region they will be based in.

  1. Driving Rules

Many countries have right-hand side driving. It is important to inform the expats about the left-hand side driving as well as the traffic rules followed in India before they step out on the roads. That, and the barely-organised chaos that rules Indian streets -your expat employees should be prepared to deal with numerous near-misses and scrapes each day they’re on the road.

  1. Currency

It is always good to mention the exchange rate of INR with the expat’s home country at the very start. This will help them in managing their money efficiently while in India. In addition to this, help them in understanding the value of the Indian rupee to safeguard them from local vendors that are always on a look to dupe foreigners with high prices.

  1. Major Festivals & Holidays

India is among the countries with the maximum national and public holidays. Help the expats in understanding the major festivals celebrated across the country along with regional festivals that they should be aware of. Provide them with a list of major holidays and festivals observed in the country and the particular region they are residing in. This will impact their work, the schools their kids go to, and the hired help they keep at home.

  1. Introduction to the City

Introducing India to the expats can be a tedious task initially. In order to avoid confusion and time, start with a guide to the city in which they will be living. Focus on essentials -police, hospitals, essential services, as well as entertainment and shopping options. Tell them about the local “places to go and things to do.” This will help them in understanding their local environment better and to settle in faster.

  1. Basics of Hindi or Regional Language

In order to survive in India, it is useful to learn or know at least a few basic words or phrases in Hindi or the local dialect of their residing area. For example, you can teach them basic Hindi words like “Haan” (Yes) and “Nahi”(No) for starters.

  1. Food

Along with the diverse culture, India boasts of a wide culinary variety. Every region has a different taste, cuisine, and recipes. It will be a good idea to introduce the expats to this wide range of delectable food choices. They can start slow and then get more adventurous with the spice and oil options as they get acclimatised.

  1. Cost of Living

It will be a good idea to help your incoming expat employees prepare a rough monthly budget depending upon their specific requirements. Inform them about things like the average rent they should be paying in their city of residence. This will help them in understanding the cost of living in India and to manage their overall finances better.

Besides these general checkpoints, it is important to update the expats about medical requirements too. Here’s a list of some essential vaccinations that the expats should get done with before moving to India:

  1. Malaria

Some places in India are rife with mosquitoes and expats are at higher risk to get infected with malaria. It is advisable to take a malaria vaccine before travelling to India.

  1. Hepatitis A & B

It is recommended to get Hepatitis A vaccine as expats have a lower immunity to the food and water in India. Consuming contaminated or poor-quality food and water can infect them with Hepatitis A. It is also advisable to take the Hepatitis B vaccine.

 

  1. Typhoid

Foreigners visiting India have been known to contract typhoid due to the consumption of contaminated water or food. To stay safe while savouring the delectable Indian food, it is advisable to take a typhoid vaccine before landing in India.

  1. Rabies

This is the most important vaccine if the expat that you are hiring is an animal lover. Indian cities are home to many stray cats and dogs. If they feel drawn towards these stray animals, it is always good to stay protected with the rabies vaccine.

There’s always more that expats could do to prepare for a move to India. But providing the expats with this checklist will help them ensure a good and memorable trip to India. Welcome to India!

FRRO_FRO_ Rules_India_Visa_Immigration

Some Essential Things You Need to Know About FRRO Rules in India – by Preeti Roongta – Founder – Lexagent Expat Relocations

A key responsibility of Foreign Nationals who wish to reside long-term in India (typically that exceeds more than 180 days) is to visit the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) within the first 14 days of their arrival in India. It is the FRRO that has the role of regulating their legal stay in India. To that extent, the FRRO manages all the tasks related to foreigners residing in India. This may include issuing residence permits, converting specific kinds of visas, and addressing matters related to visa extensions related to foreigners. In short, FRRO deals with all the legal formalities that need to be completed by the foreigners intending to stay long term.

Bureaucratic processes in India have the reputation of being lengthy and cumbersome and involving long waiting times. Automation and IT are being deployed to ease these concerns but, for expats and the companies that employ them, it pays to stay informed and to understand the FRRO rules well to avoid frustration and hassles.

What is FRRO and what are its registration requirements?

FRRO is the primary agency which deals with the registration, departure, arrival, and movement of foreign nationals who wish to reside long term in India. This applies to foreigners visiting India on a student visa, business visa, employment visa or research visa. The FRRO is also responsible for the grant of extension of stay in India, if required.

The FRRO offices in India have a presence across most major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Amritsar, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Cochin, Goa, Calicut, Lucknow. They also function with the District Superintendents of Police located across all other districts. There are 13 FRRO’s and 674 FRO’s in India.

Foreign registration is necessary for all the foreigners arriving in India on a visa which extends to more than 6 months, except for certain exempted categories. Registration is required only once at the time of usage of the visa, irrespective of the times the foreigner exits or arrives again using a multiple entry visa.

The registration requirements at FRRO are as follows:

  • Foreign nationals including those with Indian origin who are visiting India long-term and intend to stay for more than 180 days on a Student Visa, Medical Visa, Business, Employment and Research visa need to register themselves with the FRRO. The requirement is to register within 14 days from the date of arrival at a registered FRRO/FRO office.
  • Foreigners below the age of 16 years(minors) need to report in person or via an authorized representative at the registered FRRO office in a specific location. No registration is required for children under the age of 16 years. *This regulation is applicable in select cities only.
  • Registration may also be required in cases where it is specifically mentioned as- “registration required”

Here are some top FRRO rules to keep in mind for foreigners living long-term in India

  1. Prepare a checklist of all the documents required

You must carry your original passport which contains the visa stamped by the authorized officers, a photocopy of the passport and the original visa, four photographs, and details about your residence in India. A copy of the marriage certificate may be required for those seeking an extension on the grounds of their spouse being an Indian national.

For students a bonafide certificate from the University or Institute may also be required. For employment or business visa, an undertaking from the respective Indian company may have to be produced for FRRO registration. For those involved in joint ventures, a copy of the approval from the Government of India must be provided to the FRRO. In case of an employment visa involving contracts or agreements, a copy of the approval from RBI will be necessary.

  1. Registration officers will provide the Registration Certificate / Residential Permit (RC/RP)

As a foreigner, once you apply for the Registration, the resulting certificate is called the Registration Certificate or Residential Permit. This is most often valid until your visa validity, or 1 year, whichever is shorter. This RC/RP is your valid address in India and can be used to open Bank accounts, Apply AADHAAR Card, Apply PAN Card etc.

  1. Seeking exemption from registration

There are specific categories which may be exempt for registration such as US nationals who are on a 10-year business or tourist visa and their continuous stay does not exceed more than 6 months in India.

-Foreigners with 5 year tourist visas who are engaged in tourism and who visit India frequently for extended periods of time, and whose visa states that, “continuous stay must not exceed more than 6 months”

  1. Restrictions in certain circumstances

If you are a foreigner coming from yellow fever countries, then you may be required to produce a vaccination certificate from a valid medical authority. You are allowed to visit restricted or prohibited areas by securing a valid permit as visa alone may not be adequate to visit these places. For Ex: North East India, Military and Cantonment Areas.

  1. Online services are now available

A new online system has been recently introduced. This enables foreigners to apply online using an e-FRRO application and to then avail of all the services through e-mail or by post, without the need for an in-person appearance at the FRRO. These are currently available only at 13 FRRO’s. This is much simpler as you can gain access to a portfolio of 27 visa and immigration-related services during your stay in India. The e-FRRO scheme has been operating successfully since February 2018, after it was initially launched in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Mumbai. It has since been introduced in other Indian cities as well.

Like most countries, the government rules and regulations may appear to be complex and cumbersome, but with the right guidance, they can prove to be easier to navigate. Remember that the respective government departments are the final arbitrators of all the laws and rules, but we hope this information helps you as you engage with those authorities.

Lexagent Expat Relocations (www.lexagent.net) has helped thousands of expats, hundreds of Multi-national companies and several Chambers of Commerce and Industry to assist, educate, help with the maze of paperwork and dealing with the FRRO’s and FRO’s all across India. Write to us at info@www.lexagent.net if you want more information on this complex subject.

Culture In India, Cultural Assimilation, Expats Club in India,

The Why & How of Cultural Assimilation for Your Expat Employees

Business is going global rapidly. Companies are leaving no stone unturned to be the best in their industry. And, to be the best, companies need to employ the best talent, local as well as international. Sure enough, international talent has become an important part of the strategy of the modern business enterprise.

International talent, is by definition, likely to be more senior, potentially more valuable, and almost certainly more expensive for the company. It follows that these valued international employees need to settle well into their new surroundings for them to feel happy and to perform their duties up to their maximum potential. This is where cultural assimilation can play a vital role in helping these expats adapt to their new circumstances and role.

Living and working in a new country and surroundings presents employees with significant challenges even outside their new workplace. It is important for the international employees to understand the foreign culture and ways of the host country. The better they assimilate the foreign culture the sooner they will ease into their new life. Initially, many expats go through the so-called ‘Honeymoon’ phase where they are excited about coming to a new country and experiencing the new culture. Others go through a “Culture Shock” phase where the sheer newness of everything threatens to overwhelm them. The crucial part comes after this initial phase, where many of the expats start feeling homesick and missing their earlier lives. This period is the make or break period, as it determines whether or not the international employee be wanting to give up and move back to the home country or stick through.

The company and its Human Resource management group must take necessary steps to support the expat employees during this phase. There are various things that can be done to support expats with culture assimilation:

  1. Initial training:

Companies should sensitise their expat employees with training as they get started with their new job. They should be given an introduction to the new culture that they are going to be a part of. Communication is key here. Clear, detailed, and strictly relevant, information will allow the expat to understand the scenario in the host country and will allow him/her to prepare mentally accordingly. Climate, language, traditions, lifestyle, and security are some of the important factors that affect expats while settling in. The company should make sure that relevant information is communicated to the freshly-minted expat.

It is also very important for an expat to understand the prevailing social norms regarding public behaviour, etiquette, and even acceptable dress-codes. Understanding and following such traditions and values are important on the road to adjusting to the new culture. The expats should share that information with their family members, with whom they have moved to this new country.

  1. Festivals:

Whether it be Diwali and Holi in India, Christmas in most countries, or St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, festivals have always formed an integral part of any nation’s culture. This offers an opportunity for HR Depts to take the initiative and help their expats understand and participate in the host country’s festivals to blend in with the culture. Fun group activities aligned with the theme of the concerned festival where the expats can dip into the festivities along with their local colleagues will help them feel a part of the celebrations.

  1. Expat clubs and communities:

Even if it is outside the workplace, it is very important that expats meet other expats so that they can share their experiences and support each other through the cultural assimilation phase in the new country. Companies can seek out appropriate forums like the Pune Expat Club. They could introduce their international employees to these communities in and around the city. These are the platforms where not only the expats, but also their families can get together with other expat families and build a fulfilling social life.

  1. Company outings:

Employees look forward to a break from the routine, so that they can sit back, relax and rejuvenate, even as they get work done. Company outings can be used as a platform to help expats and their families understand the lifestyle of the people in the host country. Company could plan off-sites and occasions in such a way that their international employees along with their respective families bond with the other local employees. The more the time the expats spend with the locals and their families, the better they’ll understand the lifestyle that the locals lead and the easier it will be for them to blend in.

  1. Expat’s family:

It is often true that more than the expat, their family suffers the most due to culture differences. The expat has the preoccupation of work but the other members of the family especially children have to start their life from scratch. The company should make an effort to ensure that the needs of these children are taken care off. This includes providing advice and help in finding and securing admission for them in an appropriate educational. This is the most critical element in ensuring the children settle comfortably into their new surroundings. The right choice of educational institution will go a long way in organizing not only the schooling, but also the hobbies and playtime of these young expats.

Thus, in conclusion, cultural assimilation plays a vital part in the happiness and performance of an expat. It’s fair to say that the performance of your international employee directly depends on how well they settle into their new surroundings. That being so, the company must take active steps to help these international employees understand and blend in with the new culture. You must support the international employees during the adjustment period and welcome them with utmost warmth -they could well be your most valuable employees after all.

 

Culture_Shock_India

Different Phases of Cultural Shock….Which Phase You Are In?

You may experience a range of emotions when adapting to a foreign culture, from excitement and interest to frustration, depression and fear of the unknown. It is important to stress that culture shock is entirely normal, usually unavoidable and not a sign that you have made a mistake or that you won’t manage. The experience can be a significant learning experience; it will give you valuable skills that will serve you in many ways now and in the future.

Culture shock has five phases, depending on which source you read.

The Honeymoon Phase: This is a fun time. Everything is great, exciting, and new. You love the differences, meeting new people, tasting new foods, seeing different architecture, doing new things, working in your new job. This phase can last days, weeks, or months.

Irritability and Hostility: During this phase, you’re noticing differences, even slight differences, and typically not in a good way. You don’t like people’s attitudes; you have had enough of the food and just want mom’s home cooking. During this phase, a person often feels anxious, angry, sad, and/or irritable.

Gradual Adjustment: Essentially, during this phase you decide whether you will succumb to negativity or negotiate past it to make the most of your experience. If you’re successful, you regain your sense of perspective, balance, and humor, and move on to the next phase.

Adaptation of Biculturalism: You feel more at home with the differences in the new culture. Depending on how big a change a person has experienced. The person doesn’t have to be in love with the new country (as in the honeymoon phase), but they can navigate it without unwarranted anxiety, negativity, and criticism.

The Reverse Culture Shock Phase: Sure enough, this can happen! Once a person has become accustomed to the way things are done in a different country, that person can go through the same series of culture shock phases when they return home.

Learn as much as you can about the new location before you go. This means the good, the bad, and the simply different — from time zones, to what side of the street people drive on, to climate/temperature, to foods, political system, culture, customs and religion(s), to “Can you drink the water?”.

Be open-minded and willing to learning. Ask questions. Don’t withdraw! Travel within the country, and visit cultural events and locations, such as museums or historic sites.

Build new friendships. Associate with positive people. Maintain a sense of humor. (Perhaps the most important!)

Keep in touch with people at home by Skype, email, phone— whatever. This can give you some comfort while away, and it will help you to minimize reverse culture shock when you get back home.

We would love to know your cultural shock experience in India. Please write your story in the comment box.

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