Indians Travelling to 18 Emigration Check Required on Job Visa

According to a new Ministry of External Affairs advisory, Indians traveling to the 18 ECR countries for work will be offloaded if they don’t register prior.

Indians, who are travelling to 18 Emigration Check Required (ECR) on a job visa will be offloaded from January 1, 2019, if they fail to register with the Indian government beforehand, an advisory from the Ministry of External Affairs says.

“Starting 01.01.2019, no Indian emigrant holding Non-ECR passport would be allowed to go to these 18 ECR countries for employment without prior registration in eMigrate, as a measure of extending protection and ensuring their welfare overseas,” the advisory states.

The registration should be done 24 hours prior to departure by visiting eMigrate website and filling the prescribed form. Successful completion of the form will be acknowledged by a SMS/email from the Indian government.

The 18 ECR countries are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Indian Emigration Act, 1983, provides that no citizen of India shall migrate unless they obtain emigration clearance from Protector of Emigrants.

It has also been noted that certain countries (currently 18) neither have strict laws regulating the entry and employment of foreign nationals nor do they provide platforms for grievance redressal.

Thus, these have been demarcated as Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries. Therefore, anyone having ECR endorsed passports and traveling to any of the 18 ECR countries for employment need emigration clearance.

However, people who have ECR passports and are going to any of the ECR countries for reasons other than work do not need to have emigration clearance.

ECR passport holders are those who have not passed Class 10. Their passport will include a stamp from the passport office. And those who have passed Class 10 don’t need a stamp on the passport and their passports are called Emigration Clearance Not Required (ECNR) ones.

Currently, those who possess an ECR passport can migrate to the above said 18 countries only through eMigrate, an online system set up by the Indian government in 2015, to ensure fair and ethical recruitment. However, those who possess an ECNR passport don’t have to go through eMigrate system to migrate anywhere on a job visa.

And eventually, the Indian government has a data of only ECR passport holders who migrate through eMigrate.

Now, in a bid to provide protection for ECNR passport holders, the Indian government has made registration mandatory for them too. According to the MEA advisory, queries regarding the registration can be clarified by contacting toll free number 1800 113 090.

Rafeek Ravuther, a migrant rights activist in India, said that such a kind of move will help both the migrant worker and Indian government.

“Currently, the Indian government has only data of ECR passport holders because its mandatory for them to register as part of migration. And ECNR passport holders don’t have to do so. So, we have only the number of ECR passport holding Indians migrants who are migrating through eMigrate,” Rafeek said.

According to eMigrate data from January 2018 till October 2018, 2,86,011 Indians have migrated through eMigrate system.

“When registration of ECNR passport holders also becomes mandatory, then we will have the actual number of Indians migrating to 18 ECR countries,” Rafeek said.

Meanwhile, a bill prepared in 2009 to amend the 1983 Emigration Act is still in the shelves. The bill was updated in 2009 and 2011. However, the bill is put in abeyance since then.

In 2016, the 11th report regarding the bill was placed in the Parliament by the Standing Committee in 2016. The bill aims to provide a better legal supporting for Indian migrant workers.

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