Move against fees hits Malaysia departuresAfter the government’s decision to scrap all the fees levied on Malaysia-bound Nepali workers by various agencies, visa processing for Malaysian jobs has been affected temporarily.
After the government’s decision to scrap all the fees levied on Malaysia-bound Nepali workers by various agencies, visa processing for Malaysian jobs has been affected temporarily.
In a bid to relieve Nepali migrants of financial burden imposed under various headings, the Labour Ministry last Thursday decided that no such fees, being charged by several organisations against the government’s policy, would remain.
The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security had written to the Home Ministry to take action against all the agencies collecting extra sums during visa processing.
These institutions based in Nepal charged hefty fees, as a result of the unilateral policy of the Malaysian government. Police on Sunday arrested a total of 48 individuals running those firms and charging fees illegally.
The government action has led to a halt in services related to visa processing, affecting departures of Nepali workers for Malaysia at the moment.
Prior to getting final work permit for Malaysia, an aspiring worker is put through a process that involves online registration (MiGRAMS), and getting biometric medical identification certificate and Immigration Security Clearance (ISC).
After the government declared these processes invalid and arrested operators of the institutions, visa processing for Nepali workers will be affected since there is no response yet from the Malaysian side.
According to Rohan Gurung, president of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), the procedure for sending workers to Malaysia has been hit since the government announced its decision.
Malaysia is the most popular destination among Nepali migrant workers. Of more than 3.5 million labour permits issued by the Department of Foreign Employment between Fiscal Year 2008/09 and FY 2016/17, nearly 30 percent were for Malaysia.
“Interviews of workers applying for Malaysia have been suspended after the government’s decision. Some interviews were cancelled today too,” said Gurung, adding that NAFEA has welcomed the crackdown on the syndicate existing in the foreign employment sector, which exploits Nepalis migrating for work.
Nepali workers were paying an additional Rs18,480 for MiGRAMS, biometric medical test, services of One Stop Centre (OSC) operated by Malaysia VLN Nepal Pvt Ltd during visa processing, and ISC conducted by GSG Services Nepal.
Labour Ministry Joint-secretary Krishna Gyawali, however, said there was no need for panic as the government’s action was meant to find a long-term solution.
“The government has not stopped people from taking up jobs in Malaysia but only stopped those cheating our workers by slapping additional fees through an organised syndicate,” said Gyawali, adding that the government has already mobilised resources for handling the situation.
Labour Minister Gokarna Bista has urged the Foreign Ministry to use the diplomatic channel to deal with the problem faced by Nepali workers.
“It may affect labour outflow for a while but that doesn’t mean we can allow these institutions to continue cheating our workers against the law. We hope the Malaysian government will address the concerns of our workers,” said Gyawali.
NAFEA has asked recruiting agencies to have patience as the government has taken the right step for finding a sustainable solution.
Embassy closes ISC as OSC continues process
The Malaysian Embassy in Kathmandu has said operation of the Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) will be closed for a week, or until further notice.
In a statement on Monday, the embassy defended the agencies’ role saying that they were only implementing the various systems implemented by the Malaysian government in Nepal, including procedures for recruitment of workers and visa applications for both social and employment visas.
“The embassy has instructed the ISC to close its operations for a week or until further notice, in order to assist the authority with its investigation,” read the statement, terming the ISC as the first step in the standard procedure of hiring workers for Malaysia.
The embassy also instructed the One Stop Centre (OSC) to continue its operations until further notice for facilitating the visa application process (social) for tourists.
Police on Sunday arrested Ram Prasad Shrestha, the operator of OSC and Malaysia VLN Nepal Pvt Ltd that oversee visa application procedures on behalf of the embassy. A total of 48 agency operators were caught on the charge of collecting fees illegally from workers.
“Under the standard operating procedure of the Malaysian Visa application system, OSC is the centre responsible for collection and processing of all visa applications,” it was stated. “Implementation of Overseas Visa System (VLN) and OSC for social visa as well as ISC and Bio-Medical System for the application of employment visa was set by the Malaysian government on visa application for entering Malaysia, in an effort to provide enhanced global security and safety standard to Malaysian Visa application process.” (PR)