Nepalis going abroad on visit visa in droves worries officialsAuthorities fear that those leaving on visit visa could be going abroad for work by dodging official procedures.
An unusually high number of Nepalis have been going abroad on visit visas in the past few months, and this has left officials worried.
Authorities at the country’s lone international airport, who were used to seeing hundreds of Nepali migrants head to the Gulf for work everyday, are now witnessing a large number of Nepalis leave the country on visit visas.
Officials fear that a significant number of Nepalis might be going abroad for work on visit visas rather than on work visas and permits from the Nepal government. “We had received information that many Nepalis were going abroad on visit visas. Around 500 Nepalis are believed to have left the country on a single day in three flights,” said Jhalak Sharma Sapkota, secretary of the parliamentary committee Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Interest.
Alarmed by reports, the committee on Tuesday invited Department of Immigration and Nepal Police officials to discuss the issue. “We have been told that this is happening in significant numbers regularly. Therefore, we alerted the officials concerned.” Sapkota said the committee did not issue any formal directives to the agencies for now, but asked them to strictly monitor Nepalis leaving on visit visas.
During the first three months of the fiscal year 2020-21, a total of 30,156 people have flown out from Tribhuvan International Airport, according to the Department of Immigration. However, the department does not have separate data on the number of Nepalis flying out on various visa categories.
But Ramesh Kumar KC, director-general of the Department of Immigration, concedes that a large number of Nepalis have been going out on visit visas lately. “Even if 20-30 percent of the people are leaving on visit visas, that’s a significant number,” he said. “During the pre-Covid time, we had 50-60 international flights every day and only 10-15 percent of the passengers would be leaving on visit visas,” KC told the Post.
“The number looks abnormal, especially when the Covid-19 still there.”
KC also believes that those leaving on visit visas could be going abroad for work in the Gulf countries by dodging the formal labour migration procedures which requires them to take work permits from the Nepal government.
“Countries like the United Arab of Emirates have relatively relaxed their visit visa policies. Nepalis also find it easier to go on visit visas, and then find a job there rather than getting a labour permit under the individual category,” said KC. “But we can’t stop anyone if they meet visit visa requirements—a valid visa, two-way tickets, accommodation arrangements and currency equivalent to US$1,000 as travel expenses.”
The Department of Foreign Employment—the government body responsible for overseeing labour migration—has also been concerned that Nepalis are leaving on visit visas.
“We have also been hearing that more Nepalis are leaving on a visit visa. But this matter is related to the Department of Immigration and we can not do anything,” said Tikamani Neupane, spokesperson for the Foreign Employment Department.
“Our main concern is that they might get in trouble after landing in the destination countries. They will not be entitled to any compensation under foreign employment laws. It is difficult for us to repatriate them.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration has taken some steps in view of the issue. “We have asked our officials to remain extra vigilant,” said KC. “We also transferred 14 immigration officials last month and have formed two committees to study issues related to immigration.”