Jan limit for work permit on old PPs

- Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu
Jan limit for work permit on old PPs

Aug 10, 2014-

The government has decided to deny work permits to outbound migrants bearing handwritten passports from January next year, eleven months ahead of the international deadline for phasing out manual passports.

According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), the decision is aimed at ensuring a systematic phase-out of handwritten passports within the deadline served by the International Civil Aviation Organization. ICAO has given until November 24 next year to complete the phasing out of the non-machine-readable passport.

In a circular, the ministry has directed the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) to issue work permits on handwritten passports only till December-end. Earlier, the department had planned to make machine readable passport (MRP) mandatory from June 15, but had backtracked following the line ministry’s non-cooperation.

“Migrants bearing handwritten passports will be ineligible for work permit from next year. The decision was taken in response to the request of Nepal’s missions in labour destinations,” said MoLE spokesman Buddhi Bahadur Khadka.

Nepali missions have been receiving an ever-increasing number of applications for replacing the existing passports with the MRP. Foreign Ministry officials said the embassies in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Qatar jointly receive over 1,000 applications daily.

MoLE officials said the prohibition could be advantageous for future migrants as it relieves them of the compulsion to process for a MRP from the embassy. Since migrants usually go abroad in two-year contracts, their manual passports become invalid much before they complete their job.

Currently, it takes more than seven months to get an MRP through understaffed embassies in the Gulf and Malaysia. It is likely to take longer processing time in the upcoming months as over 60 percent migrants working abroad own handwritten documents. DoFE officials said the decision could save the time, money and resources for both state bodies and workers.

“A majority of workers carry handwritten passports even today,” said Badri Karki, the DoFE director. The department has already made MRPs mandatory for Nepalis travelling to countries that have no diplomatic relations with Nepal.

DoFE officials said the recruiting agencies have started discouraging workers from using handwritten passports. MoLE officials said the decision followed consultations with the Foreign Ministry, Nepal’s foreign missions and other stakeholders.

It will apply only to migrant workers as there is no legal ground to stop other people from carrying a valid passport.

Published: 11-08-2014 08:53

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