Mutual Funds for NRIs: Many Indians migrate abroad in search of better job opportunities. Unsurprisingly, they harbour a dream of coming back home one day. A majority of these Non-Resident Indians have dependents in India. In such a scenario, making investments in India seems a smart option. Mutual funds are a great way for a non-resident Indian (NRI) or a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) to participate in the growth of the country and reap benefits.

Who Is Considered An NRI (Non-Resident Indian)?

Non-Resident Indian is a person who is not a resident of India.

An individual is deemed to be a resident, if (A) Individual has resided in India in that year for 182 days or more or (B) Having within the 4 years preceding that year been in India for 365 days or more and is in India for 60 days or more in that year.

Who is considered a PIO (Person of Indian Origin)?

A PIO refers to a citizen of any country (other than Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Sri Lanka) if:

A)He/She holds an Indian passport OR
B)He/She or either of his parents or any of his grandparents was a citizen of India OR
C)The person is a spouse of an India citizen or a person referred to in (A) or (B)

Can NRI Invest in Mutual Funds in India :

NRIs and PIOs are allowed to invest in mutual funds in India on a full repatriation as well as non-repatriation basis – as long as they adhere to the rules of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Also, NRIs would have to comply with all regulatory requirements such as completion of KYC before investing. However, some AMCs do not accept mutual fund applications from NRIs in Canada and the USA.

KYC for NRIs:
To complete the KYC process NRIs must submit a copy of his/her passport. The relevant pages with name, date of birth, photo, and address. It is also compulsory for NRIs to submit their overseas address. Essentially, the correspondence address or permanent address should be an overseas address.

Procedure To Start Investing In Mutual Funds for NRIs in India:

Asset management companies (AMC) in India are not allowed to accept investments in foreign currencies. Hence, the first step to investing in the Indian mutual funds is to open an NRO account, NRE account, or a Foreign Currency Non-Resident (FCNR) account with an Indian bank.

NRE accounts are basically rupee accounts that can be used to send money back to the country 
in which an investor resides. The opening of the account can be done with money from domestic or overseas funds.

NRO accounts are essentially non-repatriable rupee accounts, while FCNR accounts are somewhat like NRE accounts save for the funds being held in an overseas currency.

In case of investments made via drafts or cheques, the application form must have an attachment of a confirmation letter obtained by the bank, or a FIRC (Foreign Inward Remittance Certificate). Either of these documents will work as a payment proof.

The other KYC documents that must be submitted include address proof and PAN.

You can invest by any of the below methods;

Your mutual fund application with the required KYC details must indicate that the investment is on a repatriable or non-repatriable basis. KYC documents include the latest photograph, attested copies of PAN card, passport, residence proof (outside India), and bank statement. The bank may require an in-person verification, which you can comply with by visiting the Indian Embassy in your resident country.

Power of Attorney
Another popular method is to have someone else invest on your behalf. AMCs allow the power of attorney (PoA) holders to invest on your behalf and also make investment decisions. However, signatures of both the NRI investor and PoA holder must be present on the KYC documents if you seek to invest in mutual funds in India.

Redemption of Mutual Funds
The proceeds from redemption of mutual funds are either credited directly to the bank account of the investor, or are paid via cheques. All the earnings will be received by the investor in rupees. Investments made from FCNR/NRE accounts or via inward remittances are totally repatriable. Therefore, earnings accrued through dividends or by the redemption of mutual funds' units are totally repatriable. With regards to investments made via NRO accounts, however, the principal amount will not be repatriable, but the capital appreciation will be.

Interestingly, there is no differential taxation rate for resident Indians and NRIs. NRIs also have to pay tax on short-term capital gains on debt funds as per the person's income tax slab and that on equity funds at a flat rate of 15%. On long-term capital gains on debt funds, they have to pay 20% tax with indexation and 10% tax without indexation, and no tax on the sale of long-term equity funds. However, for NRIs the tax is deducted at source while resident Indians have to make tax payments as per the advance tax schedule. Also, NRIs who live in countries that do not have a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with India will have to pay tax both in India and in their country.

Advantages for NRI Investing In Mutual Funds in India: 
As one of the main emerging economies of the world, India attracts several thousand foreign investors who invest in its economy. The following are some of the benefits that NRIs can enjoy by investing in Indian mutual funds.

Easy to manage funds online from anywhere: With the option of investing online, it is much easier to track and manage your mutual funds from anywhere in the world. Investors can buy, redeem, and switch units of different mutual fund schemes as well as opt for systematic transfers or withdrawal online.There is no need for issuing cheques, DDs, submitting physical forms, or even be in the country! You will receive regular consolidated account statements (CAS) through emails. Asset management companies (AMCs) also disclose portfolio holdings online to keep their investors informed.

Scope for more profits from rupee appreciation: If the rupee value appreciates against the resident country’s currency, then it results in more profits for investors. For instance, if an NRI from the UK invests 1,000 pounds in a mutual fund in India at an exchange rate of Rs 100 to 1 pound, the investor can reap good returns if the rupee appreciates against the pound. NRIs also get the same benefits by investing in India-based mutual funds in their country of residence.