November 7, 2021

International Student Crisis: Funeral home sending an alarming number of bodies back to India!

October 21, 2021 (Yahoo News) 

The lotus is a symbol that looms large in India’s mythology.

The soft pink petals of the flower join knowledge, prosperity and compassion together in spiritual harmony. In life, and beyond, the lotus represents the attainment of bliss.

The Lotus Funeral Home and Cremation Centre is an unassuming building, located incongruously in an industrial area near the border between Toronto and Peel.

A small peaked porch at the front of a squarish concrete structure marks the entrance grieving families walk through. The rest of the building stretches back to a parking lot at the rear and it shares its street with a shipping company, furniture warehouse and an industrial equipment supplier.

For family members in India who receive the bodies of their loved ones from the Lotus Funeral Home half-way round the world, the symbolism is a tragic reminder of a promising life cut short.

Lotus is where more and more young people from the world’s largest democracy are laid to rest. Their bodies are prepared there for a journey back home, from where they left on their adventure to study abroad, carrying the weight of so many expectations.

The funeral home is tasked with arranging the transportation of deceased Indian nationals, students who came to Canada among the waves of like minded seekers searching for a better life.

As Brampton grapples with an international student crisis, where too many youngsters fall through the cracks—some into a life of crime, lured by prostitution or the drug trade, others simply crushed by isolation and lonliness—increasing numbers of flights are carrying the bodies of young Indian men and women as part of their cargo.

“We’re finding that the number of student deaths has increased, not only in Brampton but across Canada. We see it across Canada,” Kamal Bhardwaj, the owner of Lotus Funeral Home and Cremation Centre, told The Pointer. “We have relationships with the Indian consulate, so when an international student passes away, then we’re notified, then we have to [help] out the families, usually bring their bodies back to India.”

In the past two weeks alone, Bhardwaj and his staff have sent the bodies of five students home. He says he sends them home at least on a monthly basis.

International students, many of whom live in Brampton, face a daunting task settling in Canada. A large number come from South Asia, where some families have liquidated assets and saved for decades to send one child to North America for an education, and eventual immigration… they hope. In the 2016-2017 academic year, there were 35,403 international students from India studying at colleges and universities in the country, according to Statistics Canada.

“In order to afford that, when you do the financial transaction, you’re looking at mortgaging the farm at home,” Gurpreet Malhotra, the CEO of Indus – Community Services, previously told The Pointer. “Family puts everything they’ve got into borrowing money to get you into Canada.”

The amount of money spent by international students in Canada has exploded over the last decade. According to the federal government, they spent $6.5 billion in 2008, and by 2018, the number had reached $21.6 billion, more than tripling in a decade as many of these unsuspecting students became the focus of a post-secondary system that now views them as a cash cow.

Governments have been all too happy to relieve their financial pressures by expanding international student admissions to significantly increase revenues.

The pressure on students is immense, as are the costs. They are often unable to return home for a host of reasons, including the crippling family shame that would accompany failure, and are limited to just 20 hours per week of work to support themselves here. Many are still developing a full grasp of the language and others come from places like rural Punjab, with no experience of life in big Canadian cities.

Some are lured into the world of organized crime and drug trafficking.

While international students, often not even out of their teens, struggle to navigate a new system, private and public colleges benefit handsomely. For Canada’s post-secondary education institutions, these young people and their desperate families represent a critical source of revenue.

The sector began to shift toward attracting more international students in 2008. Young adults coming to Canada from abroad can pay as much as four times the tuition fees their domestic classmates pay.

Over the past ten years, revenue from student fees has increased by 218 percent in Canada, with a $3.25 billion increase in the Canadian international education market over roughly the same period. The average tuition fee for domestic students is $6,822 compared to $27,613 for international students.

This outsized reliance on income from international students is shown in Sheridan College’s most recent annual report. According to the institution, 62 percent of its revenue comes from tuition fees and 56 percent of tuition fees are paid by international students.

International students accept the cost, at least in part, because graduation is portrayed by education agents in India as a path to permanent residency. An industry of private and relatively unregulated colleges has developed in Canada, selling degrees and diplomas as a path toward a permanent home in Canada.

“I can give you a painful example of a student who was acting out at the corner of Steeles and McLaughlin,” Baldev Mutta, the CEO of Punjabi Community Health Services, told Brampton councillors in September. “Somebody called us. We rushed over to find out. And, when we calmed this young man down, he said, ‘I need to get arrested because I have not eaten for a while and I have no place to sleep. At least if the police arrest me, I know they are going to feed me’.”

In a foreign land without a support system, the consequences can be fatal. Greedy landlords cram people into houses without suitable fire protections, while human traffickers circle the students most desperately in need of money.

Go Fund Me, a crowdfunding website, acts as a tragic obituary.

“His family wishes to see him one last time, but they cannot bear the costs of coming to Canada or of the funeral,” one appeal, to send the body of a 21-year-old student back to India, says. Another 23-year-old passed away in a truck fire after three years in Canada away from his family, and another died after drowning.

“They wanted their daughter to have a very good education and lead a better life and contribute to the betterment of others’ lives, and she came to Canada as an international student on an education loan,” one page explains. “They also expected her to support her younger sister for her education and career in the upcoming years. Now the family has lost their light in life, in a tragic accident.”

There are multiple factors that can lead to the death of an international student. From exorbitant rents and inadequate housing to a lack of emergency food support. Poor connections between the international student community and mental health services also leave many isolated without anyplace to turn. Colleges and private “career” schools have been criticized for not providing proper support to the students they gladly take money from, to fund operations designed primarily for the success of domestic students.

Community leaders monitoring the plight of international students say suicide is a growing problem.

“I can’t tell you the cause of death because I am not privy to that,” Bhardwaj said. “Usually, when there is a young person involved in a death, it is investigated by the coroner’s office, now the coroner’s office doesn’t share the results with us … but I can tell you on visual observations you can see certain indications of a suicide, for example.”

The Peel Regional Police says it does not have a way to record missing persons or death by suicide under any category that identifies the individual as an international student.

“I think the magnitude of the problems are so enormous that until we can all sit down in one room and say, ‘What are some baby steps we can take to address this?’ I think it is going to keep on spiralling and we will see the aftermath of it later on,” Mutta said.

He mentioned students who had been arrested as drug mules and nine pregnant international students his organization is working to help.

Mutta and Malhotra are leading community efforts to address the international student crisis. Bhardwaj also runs a charity that specializes in mentoring and peer-supporting international students before and after they arrive in Canada.

The solutions — which lie in the hands of all three levels of government — can’t come soon enough.

The difficulty faced by international students in Brampton echoes around the world. It is felt by friends locally, community leaders and, most painfully, by parents and other loved ones thousands of miles away.

“We’re dealing with these families and this tragedy, parents don’t believe this has happened, they don’t believe it is their child, they go through a hunger strike,” Bhardwaj says. “They said, ‘No, no, no, until I see my son, I’m not going to eat anything’. And literally, these are the kind of things we see… it’s just difficult all around, it impacts everyone, even our staff.”

Their end-of-life care is supposed to comfort families that look to the lotus as a symbol of hope, that even after death their loved ones will find their bliss. For families in India, who have to receive the bodies sent by Bhardwaj, his lotus is a reminder of everything they lost.

Source: Yahoo News:

June 25, 2021

EB-5 Updates 20th August 2021 at 12.00 PM (IST) 

Ajmera Law Group has several direct investment options for the EB-5 program of the USA with a reduced investment of US$ 500,000.  Act fast as the rule may change at any time. 

  1. Mexican Franchise – Start in any state in the USA which meets the definition of TEA area
  2. Co-working space and daycare center based in LA, USA
  3. Burger and Hotdog restaurent in Huston, Taxas.   Please contact us for more information

EB-5 Update 10th July 2021 at 12.00 PM (IST)

EB-5 with investment on regional center is not available but direct EB-5 with investment under US$ 500,000 active and an investor can make an investment in the USA and apply for USA green card under direct EB-5.

EB-5 Updates: 25th June, 2021 at 8.00 AM (IST)

EB-5 program reauthorization just fails to pass in US Senate

A bill to establish EB-5 rules on a permanent basis has failed in the US senate and therefore the current change in EB-5 rules will expire on 30th June, 2021.

Now the US government and senate are on vacation to celebrate the 4th July holiday.

As the current EB-5 change (where the investment amount has been once again reduced to 500K) is on a temporary basis, the US Senate MAY grant an extension in July 2021 when senators are back from vacation.

This could be a great opportunity for investors to file for EB-5 with a reduced amount of investment. Serious investors must be ready with documents and investment amounts to file the EB-5 petition with a US$ 500,000 investment amount.

IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE TO MAKE THE REQUIRED INVESTMENT IN TWO PARTS.

The investor can also borrow money to invest in EB-5.

EB-5 Update: Dated 22 June, 2021:

EB-5 Investment for US$ 500,000

Read complete the US court judgment here 

June 18, 2021

Investors traditionally invest in global financial markets primarily for – diversification of their portfolio, better returns on investment and tax planning. On the other hand, the investment made to obtain residency and/or citizenship of another country is primarily in sectors such as business/enterprise, real estate and government funds/bonds.

The most recent changes introduced in the Bulgarian Residency and Citizenship Program have changed the global investment advisory and residency by investment paradigm by offering almost all types of known financial products, real estate and enterprise as an investment vehicle for non-EU citizens who wish to obtain European residency and eventual citizenship.

The new investment routes leading to permanent residence (and eventually citizenship) of Bulgaria are as follows.

Investment asset class New investment amount in Euro
1 Equity and Stocks traded in Bulgaria ~EUR 1,024,000
2 UCITs (EU regulated fund vehicles) including exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with a focus on Bulgaria ~EUR 512,000
3 Investing in any way in Alternative investment funds (AIFs) (including private equity, venture and hedge funds), a part of whose focus is on Bulgaria ~EUR 512,000
4 Participation in a Bulgarian company carrying on a Certified Priority Investment Project (CPIP) – this is similar to EB-5 Regional Centers of USA ~EUR 1,024,000
5 Participation in a Bulgarian company employing 10 Bulgarian persons or more ~ EUR 257,000
6 Participation in a Bulgarian private company, invested in any sector or geography ~ EUR 3,075,000
7 Investment in a Certified Investment Project (CIP) (this is different from CPIP above) The exact amount and conditions are project-dependent.

 

For option numbers 1-4, the process for citizenship can be fast-tracked by doubling the investment amount. For option number 5, the citizenship process can be fast-tracked by employing 20 people in a company in Bulgaria.

Furthermore, residency by investing in real estate options is also available. The investment amount is EUR 307,000. This is more suitable for investors who wish to move to Bulgaria and live in Europe on a long-term basis.

By investing in real estate in Bulgaria, permanent residency of Bulgaria can be obtained in 5 years’ time and citizenship in 10 years’ time

June 18, 2021

New changes to the Portugal Golden Visa Program to be implemented as of 1st January 2022.

After 10 years of grand success, the Portuguese government is set to change the investment amount for its Golden Visa Program.

This change is being implemented to attract more investment in the fields of science & technology, business and real estate in the remote and less populated areas of Portugal.

Change in conditions for real estate investment in Portugal:

For Portugal’s golden visa there is no change in the investment amount for real estate investment in Portugal. The previous current investment amounts of € 350,000 (for properties more than 30 years old or located in areas of urban renovation) and €500,000 (acquisition of real estate property of any type) will remain unchanged after 1st January 2022, but investors will not be allowed to make investments in Lisbon, Porto, and the costal and resort regions of Portugal.

After 1st January, 2022, investors can make real estate investments only in Azores, Madeira and inland regions of the country. This may result in lower rental income, and also less liquidity for investors, especially when they decide to sell the real estate.

Apart from the above two real estate investment options, there are six other investment options available to investors under the old rules. The investment amount will be increasing for some options as of 1st January, 2022.

Six different types of investments in business and financial products for Portugal Golden Visa:  

  1. Transferring capital (bank deposit) will increase from € 1 million to €1.5 million for Portugal Golden Visa;
  2. Investment in VC and other funds will increase from € 350,000 to €500,000 for Portugal Golden Visa;
  3. Investment in scientific research will increase from € 350,000 to €500,000 for Portugal Golden Visa;
  4. Investment in a new and existing business with the creation of 5 jobs will increase from € 350,000 to €500,000 for Portugal Golden Visa;
  5. Investment in funds for preservation and restoration of heritage and cultural buildings will remain at €250,000;
  6. Investment in a business that will create 10 jobs will remain at 10 jobs. There is no minimum investment amount required for this option.

The investor has time until December 2021 to avail of the advantages offered by the old rules and makes an investment. However looking to the complexity of the rules, source of funds requirements and the systematic process to be followed, the time taken to process applications will be somewhat prolonged. Hence it is advisable to start the process for this visa as soon as possible.

During these COVID times, investment in funds has become a more popular option for Portugal Golden Visa than investing in real estate for obtaining the Portuguese Golden visa.

“The rules were implemented in 2017 but it was not until 2019 that the first funds became available to make an investment in compliance with immigration rules and obtain Portugal’s Golden visa,” says Prashant Ajmera, Founder and Immigration lawyer at Ajmera Law Group.

The investment funds are a safer option as these funds are regulated by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission, also known by its initials as “CMVM”. These funds are diversified into real estate located in Lisbon and Porto area.

“The investment is very safe and secure. It also beneficial to the investors as they do not have to concern themselves with the rental and maintenance of the purchased real estate” added Mr. Ajmera.

June 18, 2021

For most of us who travel abroad, applying for a visitor visa of the destination country is a time-consuming and cumbersome process. Additionally, there is always the apprehension that the application may be denied.

So how can one ensure that the visitor visa application is prepared well?

A visa officer has very limited time to review an application. Hence it is the applicant’s duty to duly complete the application form (providing all relevant details) and furnish all supporting documents (as requested) in such a manner that the visa officer’s job is made easy.

Many visitor visa applications are rejected as necessary, relevant and truthful information is not provided by the applicant in the application form and the supporting documents are not well organized.

Remember, the visa officer will first look at the visitor visa FORM and then look at the supporting documents to corroborate the information provided in the form.
The basic law and principle for all visitor visa applications remain the same irrespective of the country.

Here are a few tips for a successful visa application:

1. Visitor visa is also known as a non-immigrant visa. This visa is issued to a person so that he/she can travel to the county that issues the visa. For every visitor visa application, it is presumed that the applicant is a likely immigrant and may settle in the country that issues the visa. The onus is on the applicant to negate the presumption.

2. It is important to use (fill) only the official form available on the official website of the country or its official visa facility center such as VFS.

3. Make sure to read the instructions before filling the forms. Each question on the form must be answered truthfully. If any question is not applicable, please write ‘Not applicable’ (NA). Always give true and correct information. Do not write NA to avoid answering a question.

4. Keep your passport, birth certificate, and other personal documents ready and complete the forms by filling in the information as it appears in your passport/travel document and personal documents.

5. Always be careful regarding dates such as start time and finish time for education, job, and business. Do not fill in information without referring to the documents. If the information given in the application form is different from what is in the official documents, it can create a problem.

6. Always ensure that you have a definite purpose for traveling to or visiting a foreign country and that you possess the supporting documents for the same. For example, if you are traveling for pleasure/tourism, ensure that you have the air tickets and hotel booking. If attending a trade show, you must have the trade show registration, and if traveling for business, an invitation letter for business meetings, etc., is necessary.

7. You must have an itinerary, especially a definite date to return back to your home country. This can be shown by producing return flight tickets, holiday sanction letters from employers, etc.

8. The basic documents required to be produced include – a copy of the passport, a photograph, education and job, and/or business-related documents. It is also important to show that you are well established in your home country and are not likely to be an immigrant. This can be shown by including salary documents, job letters, bank balance, property documents, and all other types of assets. A CA’s certificate certifying your net assets is always a good document to produce. This is no perfect list of documents and it varies from application to application.

9. Always place documents in chronological order, the date by date from older ones to newer ones. If there are numerous documents, try to make an index and include a short covering letter.

10. Always keep a copy of the final application form and supporting documents submitted with you.

11. If applying for B1 / B2 (visitor visa) visa of the USA, ensure that you provide all the vital and correct information in the DS160 form. The visa officer will be making his decision based on the information provided in this DS 160 form in most cases. If you are running a big business, indicate this in the form. Do not wait for an interview to put forth the facts. The visa officer may have already made up his/her mind before the interview.

12. Correct and precise information pertaining to your education, job or business experience, assets, and reason for travel should all be mentioned in your visitor visa form. This is the key to a successful visitor visa application.

USA Non-Immigrant Visa 

June 17, 2021

The Golden Visa Program of UAE is the latest program to join the Residency by Investment bandwagon. Launched in May 2021, it is welcome news for many wealthy expatriates living in the UAE and outside of it. These expatriates, with plans to secure permanent residency in the United Arab Emirates, have been eagerly waiting for such a program to be introduced by the UAE government.

This program will offer a lot of flexibility, freedom, and security to investors, especially those living in the UAE, who previously had to adhere to very stringent do’s and don’ts when it came to doing business in the UAE.

The Golden Visa Program essentially grants people who fall into the following categories long-term residency (5 to 10 years): Investors, Entrepreneurs, Individuals with exceptional talents such as researchers, Medical Professionals, and those in the scientific and knowledge fields, and exceptional students.

The greatest advantage would most likely be security; by issuing the Golden Visa, the UAE government has demonstrated its commitment to offering expatriates, investors, and virtually anyone wishing to make the UAE their home with an additional reason to feel comfortable about their future.

Eligibility for a 10-year visa:

The following categories are entitled to apply for a 10-year residence visa in the UAE.

1. Investors in public investments of at least AED 10 million

The investment may take many forms such as:

  • A deposit of at least AED 10 million in an investment fund inside the country
  • Establishing a company in the UAE with a capital of not less than AED 10 million
  • Partnering in an existing or a new company with a share value of not less than AED10 million
  • Having a total investment of not less than AED 10 million in all areas mentioned, on condition that the investment in sectors other than real estate is not less than 60 percent of the total investment.
Conditions:

Granting a visa is subject to the following conditions:

  • The amount invested must not be loaned.
  • The investment should be retained for at least three years.
  • There should be financial solvency up to AED 10 million.

Visa can be extended to include business partners, on the condition that each partner contributes AED 10 million.

The long-term visa can include the spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.

Investors from abroad may apply for a multiple-entry permit for a six-month period.

2. Persons with specialized talents

This includes specialized talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, as well as creative individuals in the field of culture and art. The visa advantage extends to the spouse and children. All categories are required to have a valid employment contract in a specialized field of priority in the UAE.

Conditions:

Granting a visa is subject to the following conditions:

  • Scientists must be accredited by Emirates Scientists Council or holders of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.
  • Creative individuals in culture and art must be accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
  • Inventors must obtain a patent of value, which adds to the UAE’s economy. Patents must be approved by Ministry of Economy.
  • Exceptional talents must be documented by patents or scientific research published in a world-class journal.
  • Executives must be owners of a leading and internationally recognized company or holders of high academic achievement and position.
  • Doctors and specialists must meet at least two of the following conditions:
  • A Ph. D. degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world (refer to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship website for information)
  • An award or certificates of appreciation in the field of the applicant’s work
  • Contribution to major scientific research in the respective field of work
  • Published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications in the respective field of work
  • Membership in an organization related to the field
  • A Ph.D. degree, in addition to 10-year professional experience in his/her field
  • Specialization in areas of priority to the UAE

Eligibility for a 5-year visa

The following categories are entitled to apply for a 5-year residence visa in the UAE

1. Investors in a property in the UAE

Conditions:

Granting a visa is subject to the following conditions:

  • The investor must invest in a property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million.
  • The amount invested in real estate must not be on a loan basis.
  • The property must be retained for at least three years.

2. Entrepreneurs

This category includes those having an existing project with a minimum capital of AED 500,000, or those who have the approval of an accredited business incubator in the country.

The entrepreneur is allowed a multi-entry visa for six months, renewable for another six months. The long-term visa includes the spouse and children, a partner, and three executives.

3. Outstanding Students

This includes:

  • Outstanding students with a minimum grade of 95 percent in public and private secondary schools
  • University students within and outside the country having a distinction GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation.

The long-term visa includes families of outstanding students.

Program benefits

  • Foreign nationals can live, work, conduct business, and study in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor under the Golden Visa Program
  • Foreign entrepreneurs and investors are also permitted to own 100% of their businesses in the UAE
  • These visas will be issued for a time period of 5 or 10 years and will be renewed automatically
  • Investors can enjoy a very high quality of life in UAE
  • Due to its strategic location in the Middle East, UAE is extremely well connected to all major cities and business hubs in Asia, Europe and North America, making it very easy for investors to travel and conduct or expand their business

This article is contributed by Ms. Dishita Sheth, Intern at Ajmera Law Group

June 7, 2021

The rise in bank frauds and other economic offenses have attracted the attention of local and global media towards India. Lately, many fugitive economic offenders have been in the news, and thanks to them, we all now know where the tiny Caribbean islands of Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica are located on the world map!

As of today, the Indian government and its enforcement agencies are looking for more than 300 such offenders who have escaped from India. For the past few months, we have been constantly reading and hearing about a few ‘celebrity economic offenders’ in every Indian media. After spending crores of rupees and almost a week in Dominica, a private jet sent by the Indian government has returned back home with government top brass but without Mr. Mehul Choksi. Another Indian legal team is fighting in a London court to repatriate Mr. Nirav Modi and Mr. Vijay Maliya.

The scale of economic offenses in India and the way they are being handled have made India a hotbed for global agents and companies who assist such runaway criminals to obtain citizenship in another country.  These companies operate in India as a legitimate business but they are infamous globally for such activities. The fact they are operating in India openly makes one wonder why the Indian government and its allied agencies are not restricting their activities. In fact, to a common man, it seems as if the Indian government has spread a red carpet for such foreign companies to operate in India.

In 1975, when economic liberalization had started in the UAE and the Middle East, a large number of Indian laborers and workers were recruited to work in these countries. The agents and intermediaries in India often took advantage of these workers, who were poor and desperate to earn money. We have heard many horror stories about such frauds and scams during this time.

Finally, in 1983, the Migration Act was introduced by the Indian government which required foreign recruitment agencies and foreign employers to register with the Indian government if they wished to recruit manpower from India. Thanks to this Act, we now see a lesser number of foreign job frauds being reported in India. Originally this act was managed by the Ministry of Labour, but now it is managed by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India.

Coming back to the present scenario, if the Indian government does act decisively, history will repeat itself. The problem is two-fold:

  1. Indian citizens are likely to become victims of global economic fraud perpetrated by foreign companies (financial and real estate sector) who target wealthy Indian investors. The work of such foreign companies is made easier by a lack of government control.
  2. There are many global companies, agents, and consultants who assist Indian economic offenders and criminals to escape from India. At present many such foreign companies have entered and are operating a business in India because there is no law that stipulates that they need a license or permit to open an office and conduct business in India.

Foreign companies and agencies started developing an interest in the Indian market when the Indian government opened its doors for outbound investment in 2008 under the Overseas Direct Investment (ODI) for Indian entities and under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) for Indian citizens.

As per RBI data, up until now US$ 60-80 billion has been remitted or invested outside of India under each of the aforementioned schemes in the last 12 years. This makes India a very attractive destination for foreign government agencies and companies who wish to lure Indian companies and wealthy Indian citizens to make an investment in their country or investment products.

Under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), there are a series of RBI regulations, master circulars, and clarifications that specify how Indian companies can invest abroad or how Indian citizens can remit or invest money outside of India.

On the other end, there is no regulation under FEMA, or any other known regulation or act in India for that matter, to test the legitimacy of the foreign company or investment product in which Indian companies or Indian citizens make investments. These foreign entities are also not required to register with any Indian government agency or department.

Many legitimate foreign investment companies are surprised that they can come to India and offer their investment product (financial or real estate) without having to register with any Indian authority.

Let us see some examples that prove how easy things are for foreign companies as compared to indigenous companies/individuals:

  • Indian real estate developers and brokers/agents must register under RERA but foreign real estate developers and brokers do not need to register with any Indian government authority to market their real estate project in India. As per the RBI, Indian citizens invested almost US$ 86.4 million (Rs. 650 Cr.) in global real estate in the year 2019-20.
  • Indian companies and entities offering financial products and financial advice must register with the Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). However, foreign companies and financial advisors can come to India, open an office and offer their products/services to Indian citizens without any kind of registration or obtaining any kind of permit from an Indian authority. As per the RBI data, Indian citizens invested US$ 1054.78 million (Rs. 7910 Cr.) outside of India in global equities and deposits in the year 2019-20. It is estimated that this number will jump significantly in the current year.
  • Indian education institutes that wish to recruit Indian students in India must register with several government entities. On the other hand, foreign education institutes can enter the Indian market, appoint agents and recruit students from India for study in their respective country without any governmental interference. This apathy and lack of any regulatory body that oversees the operation of such foreign entities in India has resulted in widespread student recruitment scams and the proliferation of fraudulent education institutions in countries like America, Canada, and Russia.

As per the RBI data, in the year 2019-20 Indian parents remitted US$ 4989.04 (Rs. 373,178 Cr.) in foreign education fees for their children studying abroad. Additionally, US$ 5341.99 (Rs. 400,649 Cr.) was remitted for living expenses and as a gift.

Though such a large industry exists in India for foreign student recruitment, neither the student visa agents and consultants nor the recruiting foreign education institutions are regulated in India by the government.

In the year 2017, a major fraud was reported that involved an American university. Hundreds of Indian students were affected and their career and future were ruined by this scam. At that time, the External Affairs Minister, Late Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, was shocked to see the condition of the Indian students and she tried her best to revise the Migration Act. However, due to her untimely death, this Emigration Bill of 2019 is still pending with the Ministry of External Affairs.

Further irony concerning this matter is that the Indian government and all major Indian banks now offer bank loans to Indian students for foreign education with basic documentation. However, these same banks and financial institutions will ask for a pile of documents if an Indian citizen wants to make an investment in the U.S. or global stock market which is highly regulated.

  • There is no licensing and regulatory body in the immigration and visa industry in India. This has allowed foreign immigration law firms and visa consulting firms to enter the Indian market by simply registering a company in India, hiring Indian staff members, and renting a physical/virtual office in India. To attract their target audience, these companies regularly release advertisements or press notes in the Indian media and highlight how many Indian HNIs, and UHNIs have left India. These reports are based on vague estimations and serve no purpose other than inciting readers to have a go at a chance to immigrate to a foreign country.

 

A number of foreign immigration law firms continue to operate in India even after the Supreme Court of India’s ruling that foreign lawyers cannot practice law in India, nor can they open an office in India or make frequent visits to India to meet Indian clients. Based on this judgment, RBI issued a notification directing Indian financial institutions and banks to refrain from opening an account for such foreign law firms. However, the reality is totally different. Many foreign law firms are still operating freely in India. A remote-controlled company operation, which is allowed in India, could be an ideal place for global illegitimate operators.

Many global consulting firms representing governments of small countries and independent islands are also operating in India. These firms acting as marketing agents for these small countries that offer residency and/or citizenship by investment (RCI) programs. Paid by foreign governments, these consulting firms pitch the RCI programs in India on behalf of the foreign governments.

Mr. Mehul Choksi had obtained the citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda by investing a sizeable amount of money in the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua & Barbuda just a few months before the PNB scandal broke in India.

Caribbean-Citizenship-and-Passport-By-Investment
Invest above amount and receive a second passport in few months!!!

Many high-profile Indian celebrities and prominent individuals have obtained citizenship or residency in foreign countries.  Very recently a famous Bollywood star was in the news for having been granted residency in a Middle East country.

All these particular service industries are open-ended and highly unregulated in India. Unless and until the Indian government seriously acts to close the loopholes, an increasing number of economic offenders will run away from India. Private jets (funded by hard-working taxpayers’ money) will then have to be sent to bring them back to India to face justice.  

June 6, 2021
Visa Type Explanation
(1) Visitor visa, B1/B2 visa (USA), F1 visa (USA), Student visa, Study permit (1) This class of visa is known as a ‘Non-immigrant visa’ or Temporary visa. This is for purposes such as tourism, business meeting, attending conference/exhibition, meeting relatives, etc. This visa does not give the visa holder a right to stay in the visa issuing country on a permanent basis. This visa is issued to applicants who are unlikely to be future immigrants. The applicant travels on the passport of his/her country of citizenship with the temporary visa of the respective country stamped on it.
(2) Work permit (Canada), H1 visa (USA), Employment authorisation, Work authorisation, Work visa (2) A work permit is issued to a person who has a job offer from a foreign company or sponsor. This visa allows the applicant to live and work in the country that has issued this visa. This is again a temporary visa and applicant is expected to return back to his/her home country upon the expiration of the visa.

The applicant cannot apply for this type of visa on his/her own. In most western countries, when a company/employer wishes to hire a foreigner for a job, they need to demonstrate that there is a shortage of workers suitable for that particular job/work in the country or that they cannot find a suitable person who meets the skill ability/experience/ education that the particular job demands in their own country and hence they wish to hire a worker from abroad. However, in the Middle East this type of requirement is not mandatory and companies/employers can hire foreign workers. From labour jobs to white collar jobs, hiring from outside is country is permitted. This is because they have acute shortage of labour, especially skilled labour force. Most Indians living in Middle East have this visa stamped on their passport. Even people doing business in these countries are required to be sponsored by their own company. The applicant travels on the passport of his/her country of citizenship with the work visa of the respective country stamped on it.

(3) Green Card (USA), Permanent Migration (Oz), Permanent Residency (Canada), Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR-UK), Golden Visa (Europe) (3) This visa gives the applicants the right to live in a foreign country on a permanent basis provided they meet the renewal requirements. The visa is issued to the following persons: (i) Skilled workers – If they have been sponsored by a company or person (as in case of Family Class in USA) on a permanent basis. In countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, applicants can apply to reside permanently in these countries without sponsorship. They are selected as immigrants based on their age, education, language skills and work experience.

(ii) Businesspersons and investors – Applicants who wish to do business and /or invest in a foreign country can apply to become a permanent resident either by starting a business, investing in a business or making some sort of investment in the foreign country as stipulated by the said country’s government. This category is also popularly known as Residency and Citizenship by Investment or Second Passport. (iii) Spouse – Under the marriage class, spouses can obtain the right to live permanently in a foreign country if their spouse is a permanent resident or citizen of that country (iv) Refugees – Persons who have sought asylum in a particular foreign country can apply to stay in that country permanently under the asylum law. The applicant travels on the passport of his/her country of citizenship with the permanent resident visa of the respective country stamped on it.

(4) Citizenship (4) If an applicant has shown his/her commitment to stay permanently in a foreign country over a period of 3,5, 7 or 10 years (time period depends on the citizenship laws of the country), they can apply to become a citizen of that country. Indian citizens cannot hold dual citizenship under Article 9 of the Indian Constitution. In the event an Indian citizen receives citizenship of another country, he/she will lose the Citizenship of India. When an Indian citizen holds foreign citizenship and foreign passport, he/she will be required to apply for a visa to visit India unless he/she has been issued an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.
(5) OCI card holder (5) In general, the OCI card is issued to individuals who are Indian citizens by birth and their children who are now citizens of another county either by naturalisation or by birth. Foreign spouses of Indian citizens may also qualify for an OCI card.

https://boi.gov.in/content/overseas-citizen-india-oci-cardholder

(6) Non Resident Indian (NRI) (6) In general terms, NRI means a person who is an Indian citizen and now living in a foreign country for an extended period of time. However, as per the Indian taxation law, ‘any Indian citizen who is staying out of India in any assessment year for more than 182 days is a Non-resident Indian for tax purposes. Click here
(7) Countries which offer direct citizenship to Indian citizens (7) The countries which offer direct citizenship to Indian citizens are – Turkey, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Malta, Montenegro, Vanuatu, Bulgaria
(8) Countries which do NOT offer citizenship to citizens of any country (8) UAE and most Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City, North Korea, Liechtenstein, Bhutan, China, Austria, San Marino, Japan, Germany, etc., are some of the countries that do not offer citizenship to citizens of foreign countries. These countries may allow foreign citizens to study and work in their countries but do not allow them to become citizens of their country.
9) Countries which offer citizenship after granting permanent residency (9) USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Portugal, Malta, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Cyprus and many European countries first grant permanent residency to foreign citizens and then citizenship if they fulfil the conditions stipulated in their citizenship laws.
   

 

June 3, 2021

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) confirmed on May 31 that banks and other regulated entities cannot cite its 2018 circular on cryptocurrencies because it was set aside by the Supreme Court (SC) in March 2020. The RBI stated that the circular is no longer effective as of the date of the SC ruling and that it cannot be referred to or quoted from.

This clarification follows a series of previous investor communications from banks like HDFC and SBI, which highlighted a 2018 circular to warn investors about the “uncertain regulatory landscape” in this industry. Investors were urged to understand the nature of these transactions and to be mindful of the hazards connected with crypto and virtual currencies.

The circular does, however, include a cautionary warning about banks performing due diligence in cryptocurrency concerns. Banks were told to maintain complying with KYC (Know-Your-Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) requirements, among other things.

“We welcome the move from the RBI to clarify the stand around the old circular which was set aside by the honorable Supreme Court. I hope the confusion around the same ends now. We also respect the concern the banks may have around AML (anti-money laundering) policies and discussions around the same will make the industry stronger, and investors and investments safer.” said Sumit Gupta, CEO, and Co-founder, Coin DCX.

Due diligence, on the other hand, is a legal requirement that all financial institutions must fulfill. All of this leads to a bright future for the booming crypto business, which has been hampered by ambiguous government policies and laws.

Despite the country’s ambiguous cryptocurrency landscape, Indians have invested more than $1 billion in the cryptocurrency market, making India one of the top virtual currency trading countries.

Experts believe there is now a chance for substantial industry-government collaboration on crypto-related policies. “This is very positive for the ecosystem and it feels like overall consensus within the government and regulatory bodies are against stifling innovation and growth in the Crypto ecosystem in India,” Sandeep Naliwal, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Polygon, an Indian blockchain scalability platform, said.

When Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame invested in Polygon, the company skyrocketed in popularity. Polygon’s native token, Matic, has risen in value from $26 million upon its start in 2019 to moreover $14 billion in recent months.

RBI’s statement to banks on cryptocurrency investments clears their position on whether customers are legally allowed to invest in crypto. Instead of denying service to their customers based on an invalidated circular, it is time banks came on board the crypto investment bandwagon, allow the crypto exchanges to hold accounts with them, and enable customers to make investments via all possible options, including UPI and bank transfers. Cryptocurrencies are the future and we must ensure we stay at the forefront of this technology”, emphasizes Ashish Singhal, CEO, Coinswitch Kuber.

With RBI’s consent and clearance on the trading of cryptocurrency and an increasing number of businesses and individuals embracing cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain applications, formal regulation of the sphere is no longer a pipe dream. As the government strives for increased financial inclusion and engagement, it is critical that a suitable environment be created to make this possible.

This article is contributed by Ms. Dishita Sheth, Intern at Ajmera Law Group

June 2, 2021

INTRODUCTION

There has been a paradigm shift in the mindsets of people that have existed for centuries which has switched dramatically. As record-high inflation rates have surpassed, lifestyles that have been built over decades can no longer be sustained by the current existing income levels. Investors today are weighing their alternatives to building a luxurious and comforting lifestyle

Todays’ twenty-first-century Investor is well versed and cognizant about the functioning and performances of markets around the globe. Geographic blockades no longer seem to be a hindrance for pursuing contemporary and advanced investment prospects and for generating exceptional returns for the investors. Investors are now switching to Global Funds, which enables and permits them not only to expand but also diversify their portfolio and invest globally

A Global Mutual fund is one that invests in businesses all over the world, including those in the investor’s home country. It aims to find the best investments for the investor from a large pool of securities around the world. A global fund can be either engaged in a single asset class or can be spread over many.

Structure of Global Mutual Funds

  • Direct Investment

There are assets that are managed directly by a local fund manager. Rather than relying on an offshore investment manager, the local fund manager ensures that your portfolio is well-managed and orchestrated

  • Indirect Investment   

They are referred to as Feeder Funds which pool money from local investors and then transfer the corpus to the parent fund, which is administered offshore, OR pure fund of funds, which invest the investor’s money in a portfolio of offshore funds,

  • Mix Investment (Foreign + Domestic)

These funds have a mix of both domestic and international mutual funds. As a result, they are a safer option for moderate risk-takers because they have reduced exposure to global equities while keeping an emphasis on the domestic market, which improves and enhances the tax efficiency of the portfolio.

  • Specific Region Investment

While selecting the Global Mutual Funds, the investor can invest in a specific country or region of her/his choice. The Investor needs a thorough understanding of the region/country she/he chooses to analyze the growth potential, returns, and exit at the appropriate time

These funds are more versatile because they are not limited and restricted to a specific region or country and it can provide investors with a more diversified exposure. These are usually managed by Fund managers, who have the requisite skills and proficiency in managing an investor’s portfolio and can identify and analyze prospects from all different parts of the world

  • Specific Theme Investment

These funds invest globally in particular themes or growth prospects. The Investor may invest in minerals, oil, gold, agriculture, mines, and other diverse themes or sectors. These funds are perfect to invest in during a growth cycle because they give investors access to segments that aren’t present in the domestic market. But the Investor must make that their portfolio isn’t overburdened by these types of assets, as limited exposure to a single theme will put investors at risk

Why Invest in Global Mutual Funds?

Diversification and Growth

It helps the investor to spread their Investment Portfolios among various foreign companies, markets, and securities in addition to their home country’s, as Global Mutual Funds invest into a wide range of securities in different parts of the world in different industries giving the Investors’ diversification in multi-folds (geographical, currency, industry). As a result, the risks that the volatility of a single security or the uncertainty in a single country or currency would have an adverse impact on the portfolio’s overall performance are reduced.

Hedge against Currency 

When we look at the rupee’s pattern in relation to the dollar, It is evident that it has just declined greatly. The Indian rupee which was worth Rs. 45 in 2000, is now worth Rs. 75. There are a variety of reasons for this depreciation, varying from global turbulence to growing inflation to venal bureaucracy to poor fiscal policies. Today, Investing in Global funds will help you take advantage of the rupee’s depreciation. By investing in rupees, you gain exposure to foreign exchange as you invest in these global funds. Any increase in the value of the foreign currency, as well as any decrease in the value of the domestic currency, would increase the investor’s returns. Since they offer a hedge against currency fluctuations, they must be included in the Investor’s Portfolio

 Taxation

For tax purposes, all mutual funds that invest in global markets are referred to as Non-Equity funds. As a result, Tax levied on Global Funds are in the following manner:

– The Investor sells the units within three years of the time when she/he bought them, the gains are credited to her/his taxable income and charged according to the slab rate. (Short Term Capital Gains)

The Investor sell the units after three years from the date of acquisition, the gains are levied at a rate of 20%, and indexation advantages (Long Term Capital Gains)

CONCLUSION

Investors should treat global mutual funds as a tactical allocation and keep a close eye on them while they are investing in the same, as the returns from these funds are not necessarily in line with those from Indian Mutual funds. Effectively, once the investor invests in those accounts, be mindful of both the advantages and disadvantages. Begin with small investments to get a better understanding of how those investments function before committing to larger investments in a foreign mutual fund. Invest only after you’ve developed a well-diversified exposure to mutual fund investments in India, and give yourself 5-7 years to do so.

This article is contributed by: Ms. Dishita Sheth, Intern at Ajmera Law Group