Question: I have recently obtained an L-1 visa from the US Immigration Authorities. My wife has obtained an L-2 visa. I am told that the US authorities insist on a separate work permit application by those holding the L-2 visa. I am not aware of the legal requirements for my wife to apply for a work permit. Some have advised me that this is not necessary. Can you throw some light on this issue?
Answer: At present, the US law requires L-2 visa holders to apply for an employment authorisation document which is equivalent to a work permit application. Some NRIs, alongwith others, filed a law suit in America and they have obtained a favourable ruling whereby the Court has held that it is not necessary for an L-2 visa holder to file for an employment authorisation document. Based on this ruling, it is expected that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services may revise their policy and permit L-2 visa holders to be employed or self-employed without having a work permit. Currently, applications for work permit take 10-15 months for adjudication. Therefore, you will have to wait for some more time before there is any announcement of change in policy by the US Immigration Authorities.
Question: My brother who is residing in a small town in India wants to become a business correspondent so that he can be self employed and earn a reasonable amount by rendering banking services. I do not understand the role of a business correspondent. Can you please give me some information?
Answer: Business correspondents are self employed persons who help people in the smaller cities having Jan Dhan accounts. The business correspondent provides service to customers of a bank. The correspondents help depositors to connect to public sector banks using handheld devices which are similar to credit card swipe machines. These machines are capable of using the Aadhaar biometric for authorisation. The Reserve Bank of India in a policy announced in 2017 has recognised business correspondents and given them a legal standing. They are required to work for a minimum of four hours a day for five days a week. At present, the correspondents are servicing 78 per cent of Jan Dhan accounts, accounting for deposits of roughly Rs437 billion. Currently, there are more than 125 million business correspondents operating in India.
Question: I am in my mid-50s and plan to return to India after retirement. I want to subscribe to the National Pension System. Am I eligible to do so being a non-resident Indian?
Answer: Any citizen of India between the age of 18 and 65 years can open an account of the National Pension System. Therefore, if you are a citizen of India, you can do so though you may be non-resident under both the Income-tax Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act. You can use the eNPS website for opening the account online. For this, you need to give your Permanent Account Number and details of your bank account in India. A Permanent Retirement Account Number is issued to each NPS account subscriber. The first contribution in the account has to be a minimum of Rs500. If you have taxable income in India, you can claim a deduction under section 80-CCD of the Income-tax Act upto a maximum of Rs50,000 per annum. The NPS is a voluntary contribution pension system which aims to provide old age income over a long term, giving reasonable market driven returns.
H. P. Ranina is a practicing lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.
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