Nepalis continued to be duped to work abroad on visit visasOfficials say a worker is charged up to Rs250,000 for going abroad for work on a visit visa.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
On Tuesday, when a team from the Department of Foreign Employment raided a recruiting agency in Kathmandu, officials recovered eight passports with visas for the United Arab Emirates.
The problem with the visas found at Orchid Overseas Pvt Ltd, Gaushala, was that they were for short visits, not for working in the UAE.
“The recruitment agency was found sending migrant workers abroad on visit. Doing so is is against the law,” said Kushal Baral, section officer at the department
The department had raided the office after receiving a tip-off that workers were being sent abroad on visit visas. “We have seized the passports, other documents and a computer,” Baral told the Post.
The raid comes as officials were worried that an unusually high number of Nepalis were going abroad on visit visas, raising suspicion that agents were sending workers to destination countries illegally.
“Agents sending workers abroad on visit visas has come up as a challenge for us. When employers ask recruiting agencies in Nepal to send them workers quickly, these agencies try to send them on visit visas,” said Baral, whose team often raids agencies suspected to be involved in malpractices. “Nepalis have been going abroad in large numbers on visit visas lately to other countries as well, but most of them have been reportedly going to the UAE.”
Taking advantage of desperate situation workers, who are ready to pay any price to land jobs abroad, recruiting agencies have been overcharging Nepalis whom they send abroad on visit visas, which only take days to apply for and receive.
According to Baral, an unofficial estimate shows that nearly 6,000 Nepalis have reportedly gone abroad on visit visas with the intention of working in destination countries.
The Foreign Employment Department has already raided 14 Kathmandu-based recruiting agencies. Most of them were found sending workers on visit visas by dodging the country’s foreign employment rules. As per prevailing rules, a Nepali citizen, who wishes to migrate for working, must receive a labour permit from the government.
Following the surge in the number of people going abroad on visit visas, the Department of Foreign Employment has increased its monitoring and made the general public aware of the consequences of travelling on visit visas to work abroad illegally, according to Tikamani Neupane, spokesperson for the department.
“We can say that the number of Nepalis leaving the country on visit visas with plans to work abroad has come down after concerned agencies took action,” said Neupane. “However, it has not completely stopped. Nepalis still continue to flout rules and leave the country to work on visit visas.”
According to officials, what makes the monitoring more difficult is that recruiting agencies collude with travel agencies and educational consultancies to send Nepalis abroad for work on visit visas.
“Agencies have been secretly working and keeping their candidates’ documents with travel agencies and consultancies. Since workers do not file complaints unless they are stranded abroad or are cheated, it makes the inspection process tough,” said Baral. “Going on a visit visa means that workers become vulnerable to various forms of abuse in Nepal and in destination countries.”
Recruiting agencies have been charging around Rs250,000 per person for those who wish to travel on a visit visa, said Baral.
On Monday, immigration officials offloaded around 70 passengers who were leaving on visit visas, said Tek Narayan Paudel, director at the Department of Immigration.
“Immigration officials have been strictly monitoring Nepalis going abroad on visit visas. They are also offloading people found suspicious,” Paudel told the Post. “The recent incident of offloading such a large number of passengers shows that people are still travelling on visit visas which only put them at risk.”