Youths who went seeking work on visit visa return home empty-handedA group of 13 youths from Rautahat were flown to the UAE on visit visas with a promise of lucrative jobs by recruitment agents. But upon landing in Dubai, they found the promise was false.
Nepali youths, who had lately left the country on visit visas in the hope of finding jobs abroad, have been returning home empty-handed.
A group of 13 youths who became victims of a visit visa scam and returned home has come in touch with the Department of Foreign Employment last week. The youths were stranded in the United Arab Emirates for a month.
The youths, all from Rautahat, had reached the UAE on visit visas after paying nearly Rs200,000 each to a ‘sub-agent’ in Lalitpur. But a month later, all of them have returned home empty-handed and are pleading for help.
“The agent had told us that if we get stranded or face any problem in the UAE, he would come to our rescue,” said Ram Pravesh Sah, one of the victims, on a video posted by Sajha Sawal. “But nothing like that happened.”
Another worker Ram Prasad Sah Teli said he had to ask for money from his brother in Qatar to pay his way back home.
This is the first big group, which has come in contact with the government agencies in recent weeks after reports that Nepalis in large numbers have been leaving the country through illegal channels, according to officials.
According to Matrika Sapkota, a section officer at the Department of Foreign Employment, the group was duped by a local sub-agent and the Balkumari-based Target Immigration and Education Consultancy.
“We had received several complaints that the agency was sending people to European countries like Croatia, Portugal and Poland with false promises of employment,” Sapkota told the Post. “When we visited the agency for inspection, we met these youths who said they were duped by the agency.”
When regular international flights resumed after the end of the Covid-19 lockdown, there was a worrying surge in the number of Nepalis leaving the country on visit visas.
Following such an unusual trend, the department had conducted raids at several recruitment agencies, travel agencies and educational consultancies. The department found that several such agencies were involved in sending youths abroad with fake promises of lucrative jobs and in violation of the foreign employment rules. The rules require that a Nepali national leaving the country for foreign employment must acquire the labour permit issued by the government.
But the youths told the Post that they were not aware that they were being sent on visit visas.
“We had already paid them all the money. The agent had told us that we were being sent on work visas,” said Sah. “By the time we learnt about our visa category, it was already late.”
Another youth, Khena Sah said the agent handed them the travel documents including the passport, visa and the air ticket, only after they reached the airport and shortly before their flight.
“They gave us the travel documents at the last moment and rushed us through the departure gate,” said Khena. “We were also asked not to show the documents to anyone else other than the immigration officials.”
The youths had been promised a monthly salary of UAE Dirham 1,500 (approximately Rs48,541) for eight hours of work per day. However, upon landing, they were collected by a Nepali agent and were taken to a flat in a Dubai suburb.
“There were no beds so we had to sleep on the floor,” said Niresh Kumar Sah on the Sajha Sawal video. “There was no drinking water or any food. They would provide us just two meals a day—sometimes the food would come at 4 pm and sometimes at 2 at night. When we protested, they would shout at us but kept promising that we would get jobs.”
Niresh had invested Rs200,000 after borrowing a loan at 36 percent annual interest rate. And to get the loan, he had to transfer the ownership of a piece of ancestral land to the moneylender, according to Niresh. But even the loan was not enough and he had to borrow more money from his brother in Qatar to pay his return home.
“The Nepali agent in the UAE would transfer us from one room to another,” said Niresh. “As our visa was soon going to expire and we would have to pay huge fines for overstaying, I borrowed some money from my brother and returned home.”
Last Friday, the department sealed the office of Target Immigration and Education Consultancy.
According to Sapkota, one of the officials involved in the raid, they found that the agency was operating illegally as it had not acquired a licence from the department to export workers.
“The incident has shown that Nepalis leaving for work on visit visas have started facing problems, just as we had feared. The youths told us that there are many other Nepalis stranded like them in the UAE,” said Sapkota. “We will investigate the matter.”
The department had been regularly receiving complaints from Nepalis who had been duped with promises of jobs in labour destination countries, according to Sapkota.
“Most of them complain that they were not given jobs or paid salaries in the destination countries,” said Sapkota. “However, many do not file complaints fearing legal complications and they might not be able to recover the money from the agents. They tend to wait for agents or agencies to return their money.”
Meanwhile, the youths from Rautahat said they do not advise anyone looking for foreign employment to go abroad on visit visas.
“I want to tell others that you should not go on a visit visa. The agents will say that you will get a job there, but there is no work,” said Ram Pravesh Sah.