India Has a New Plan to Attract Foreign Investors

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during part of the opening ceremony of 'Make in India Week' in Mumbai on February 13, 2016. Over 190 companies, and 5,000 delegates from 60 countries, are taking part in the first 'Make in India Week' to be held in Mumbai from February 13-18. AFP PHOTO / PUNIT PARANJPE / AFP / PUNIT PARANJPE (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

India is hoping to shore up greater foreign investment by way of a new special residency program, according to reports.

Lawmakers on Wednesday signed off on a plan that would allow foreign investors to live in India under so-called “permanent residency status,” though the visas will be issued on an initial period of 10 years.

To be eligible, foreigners would have to invest 100 million rupees ($1.5 million) over 18 months, or 250 million rupees ($3.7 million) over three years, resulting in jobs for at least 20 resident Indians every fiscal year, the government said in a statement. The program would reportedly bar citizens from Pakistan, India’s old rival in the region.

Investors would also be allowed to purchase one residential property, and later on potentially extend their residence for another decade. Criteria for that extension have yet to be stipulated.

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Mohan Guruswamy, a former Indian finance ministry official and chairman at the Centre for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi, cheered the news as “an indication of more broad-mindedness towards foreign investors.”

“It’ll be easier for them to come to India,” he told Bloomberg.

India, now one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, eased some foreign direct investment restrictions in June, seeking to open up more jobs in the retail, defense and civil aviation sectors, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a shift toward leniency, the government said that it would give foreign-owned single-brand retailers a three-year grace period from requirements that mandated they buy at least 30% of their manufacturing materials from Indian vendors, among other relaxations.

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Until now, investors have only been eligible for business visas lasting up to five years, according to Reuters.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping that the new changes will boost investment in sectors like manufacturing, where lower educated workers will be able to find jobs. The new visa plan, which is being compared to similar initiatives in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the U.S., is the latest part of Modi’s “Make in India” program.

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FDI in India rose by as much as 23% in the fiscal year to March, raking in $55.5 billion, according to Reuters.

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