KATHMANDU, Dec 14: Nepali workers staying in Malaysia without valid documents have been given two weeks to leave the country under a new amnesty program announced by the Malaysian government.
The Nepali Embassy in Malaysia has also urged all Nepali workers who do not have valid visa or document to stay in the Southeast Asian country to utilize the opportunity and return home before December 31 in order to avoid persecution.
Under the 'Back for Good' program announced by the Malaysian government in mid-July, illegal immigrants who have overstayed in Malaysia or those who stay in Malaysia without valid pass or permit to return home voluntarily with a 'minimum penalty'. Such illegal immigrants are eligible to return to their homes after paying a penalty of 700 Malaysian Ringgits, according to the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
The Malaysian government is reportedly preparing to crack down on illegal immigrants after the amnesty deadline expires.
The embassy has also appealed the Nepali workers overstaying in Malaysia or lacking valid documents to not waste the amnesty opportunity. Those who do not have passport or any other travel document, who have abandoned their employers, and who have overstayed are considered to be illegal immigrants in Malaysia.
Based on the number of work permits issued to Nepali citizens bound for other countries, Malaysia is the top destination for Nepali workers. Nearly 1.1 million Nepali citizens have acquired work permit so far to go to Malaysia for employment. It is estimated that nearly half million are working in Malaysia at the moment. As the Department of Foreign Employment does not keep data of returnees, there is no figure on the number of workers who have returned or are staying abroad.
Officials at the Nepali Embassy in Malaysia have a rough estimation that there could be nearly 100,000 workers who have either overstayed or who lack documents that render them illegal immigrants there. Such illegal workers are not even eligible for insurance protection or financial assistance from the government in case of death or injury.
Bhisma Kumar Bhusal, director general of the Department of Foreign Employment, also urged such illegal Nepali workers to safely return home before the end of the amnesty period.