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Around 15,000 illegal Nepalis avail amnesty

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu
Nepal Embassy in Malaysia says nearly 15,000 illegal Nepali workers availed the amnesty before the deadline ended on August 30

Sep 1, 2018-Thousands of undocumented Nepali workers have returned home from Malaysia in a year under the general amnesty offered by the Malaysian government.

According to the Nepal Embassy in Malaysia, nearly 15,000 illegal Nepali workers availed the amnesty before the deadline ended on August 30.

Workers with expired visas and those absconding from their original employer and working elsewhere without valid work permits are termed illegal by Malaysian rules. 

The amnesty exempted such illegal workers from paying high fines Nepal Embassy Second Secretary Maheshwor Mani Tripathi said undocumented workers had shown interest to use the amnesty to avoid legal issues.

Malaysia had given options to illegal immigrants to either avoid legal actions choosing the Voluntary Deportation Programme, also called 3-plus-1 programme, or obtain legal status through rehiring programme that ended on June 30, 2018.

The opportunity to stay in Malaysia through the rehiring was valid up to December 2017, but the authorities extended it again up to July this year.

The amnesty permitted undocumented workers, who could not rejoin their workplace or failed to find a new employer, could leave the country by August 30 without facing any legal actions.

Malaysia launched massive clampdown on illegal workers and arrested hundreds for defying their immigration rules after the rehiring deadline lapsed.

Following the crackdown, illegal workers visited the Nepal Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to avail a temporary passport for one-way travel to Nepal issued to workers without valid passports. In the last eight months, the embassy issued 12,841 Travel Documents costing 160 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) for each worker.

Three thousand other workers who had valid passports also availed the amnesty and returned to Nepal. They paid RM 400 - RM 300 as fine and additional RM100 for the special pass. Malaysia will announce later the number of illegal workers who returned to Nepal.

Malaysian Immigration Department record showed 385,000 documented Nepali workers as of July 2018. The department estimates more than 1.7 million foreigners legally working in Malaysia during the same period.

Local authorities arrested 28,063 illegal immigrants and 799 employers in raids conducted between January and August 15, according to the Malaysian media reports.

From the 1,500 illegal workers arrested in Malaysian raids earlier this month, 100 were Nepalis, said Tripathi.

“Number of Nepali workers, arrested last August, ranked fifth among workers from other countries. This shows Nepali workers chose amnesty and returned home. The number of illegal Nepalis in Malaysia is not a big issue,” said Tripathi.

The embassy had organised two camps in Penang and Johor Bahru in a bid to encourage illegal Nepali workers to avail amnesty.

As per the Malaysian immigration rules, illegal workers could face fines up to RM 5,000 and banned from re-entering Malaysia up to five years.

Published: 01-09-2018 07:46

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