The government is likely to relax the minimum salary guidelines for hiring foreign faculty in a move aimed to address shortage of teachers at some of the premier academic institutions in the country like the IITs.
According to sources, the Union Home Ministry has moved a Cabinet note proposing dilution of the income criterion for issuing work visas to foreigners. Currently, work permits are provided only to those who are entitled to a salary of $25,000 a year or more. The Home Ministry has proposed to lower this threshold to $15,000 a year.
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The $25,000 criterion was earlier justified on the ground that jobs in India should be protected for Indians unless there was a specific need to hire foreigners.
Although in 2007, IITs were permitted to employ foreign teachers on a five-year contract basis, the institutes couldn’t achieve the desired faculty strength as they couldn’t afford to pay over Rs 1 lakh a month for mid-level teachers.
The relaxed work visa norms, if approved by the Cabinet, will help central universities and IITs to some extent.
Sources also revealed that the HRD Ministry, in a meeting held with MHA and MEA representatives Monday, flagged the inordinate delay in processing work permit applications submitted by foreign teachers. “There are, for instance, over 10 candidates who have been hired by IITs but haven’t received their work permits for over six months,” said an official who did not wish to be identified.
The HRD Ministry is learnt to have requested them to expedite the approvals and bring down the processing time from six to two months. “Currently, the candidate’s application is first given political clearance by the MEA and then security clearance by the MHA. Why can’t we skip going to the MEA for candidates who come from countries with MFN status?” the official added.
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