Job | ‘More than 28 lakh Indians went abroad in search of work in two-and-a-half years’

The central government said that between January 2020 and July 2022, more than 28 lakh Indians went to foreign countries in search of work. The data also shows that during the same period, more than 4.16 lakh citizens have gone to work in countries where Emigration Check Required is required.

Meanwhile, in a written statement, the Ministry of External Affairs told the Lok Sabha that there is no index to accurately record the numbers of people going abroad for work purposes. Purpose of travel is ‘generally collected through the travelers’ verbal disclosure or based on the type of visa of the country they are going to during immigration clearance.

The ministry added that the number of Indians who went abroad between January 1, 2020 and July 27, 2022, who disclosed the purpose of their visit, work, verbally or as per work visa of the destination country, was 28.51 lakh.

At the same time, the figures indicate that there has been a steady increase in these figures. While 7.15 lakh Indians went abroad for work in 2020, it increased to 8.33 lakh in 2021. Till the end of July this year, 13.02 lakh Indians went abroad for work purposes.

The ministry said it maintains records of Indian workers holding ECR passports who migrate through legal channels (e-migrate portal) to ECR-required countries for foreign employment. Out of a total of 4.16 lakh Indians, 1.31 lakh, or about 32 per cent, are from Uttar Pradesh. Bihar is next with 69,518 people.

The ministry also said that only 17 countries need emigration clearance: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.

According to the Emigration Act, 1983, no citizen of India can immigrate to other countries without obtaining emigration clearance from the Protector of Emigration.

Similarly, some countries (currently 17) have been found to lack strict laws governing the entry and employment of foreign nationals. But the ministry said that these countries do not provide avenues for grievance redressal. Hence, they are classified as ECR countries.

Immigration clearance is required to travel to 17 ECR countries for work purposes. Meanwhile, ECR passport holders do not require immigration clearance to travel to any ECR country for purposes other than employment.

The rise in the figure was reported after many Indian nationals, especially from the Gulf, returned to the country following the Covid-19 crisis. According to records available in the Immigrate system, at least 4.23 lakh Indian migrant workers have returned from 14 ECR countries between June 2020 and December 2021. Out of this, 1.18 lakh citizens have returned from Saudi Arabia and 1.52 lakh from the United Arab Emirates, according to the ministry’s figures.

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