New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are now free to hire professors from foreign countries without seeking prior approval from Home Ministry or the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

Both the ministries have told the IITs via the human resource development ministry that such requirements are not needed, and IITs can hire foreign facilities for blocks of five years, according to official documents reviewed by Mint and people familiar wit the development.

However, the elite engineering and technology schools cannot hire faculties from clutch of countries including Pakistan, and Afghanistan and foreigners of Pakistan origin without prior clearance.

"After discussions, MHA (has) clarified that its prior approval is required only when the faculty proposed to be appointed is from Prior Reference Category countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Foreigners of Pakistani origin, and Stateless persons) and those required to visit restricted areas in India," as per the official document.

Long-term Employment Visas are issued to foreigners for a period of 5 years with a provision for extension for a further period of five years. And foreign professors will get the same facilities.

All foreigners are required to register with FRRO (foreigners regional registration offices) once every year, which can be done online.

The external affairs ministry too has clarified that "no prior approval from them will be required as necessary due diligence will be done at the time of granting employment visa by the respective Indian Missions".

"Similarly, no prior clearance from MHA and MEA will be required in case of appointment of NRIs and overseas citizens of India as permanent faculties" said an IIT professor who declined to be named.

IITs are facing a shortage of faculty up to 35% and are now reaching out to countries including the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, Germany etc to hire professors. The employment visa issue has been a long pending demand from the IITs and shall pave way clarity in hiring foreign faculties.