Over 600,000 Permits Issued for Foreign Employment in Last FY
- The number of work permits issued increased by 3.68 times in the last fiscal year
- Saudi Arabia was the most preferred labor destination in FY2021/22
- For Nepali women migrant workers, UAE was the first choice
With the resumption of international travel following the subsiding of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking labor approval for foreign jobs.
The data published by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) shows the number of people who took work permits for foreign employment exceeded 600,000 in the fiscal year 2021/22.
According to the data of the department, 628,503 people have received new permits and renewed their permits to work abroad, which is the highest since FY2017/18. According to DoFE Director General Shesh Narayan Poudel, the number of work permits issued increased by 3.68 times to over 628,000 in the previous fiscal year.
The foreign employment sector was badly hit by the pandemic in the last two fiscal years due to international travel restrictions and lockdowns in major labor destinations resulting in a massive slump in the number of work permits issued by the government to individuals seeking to go abroad for employment. This caused the number of Nepali migrant workers going abroad to plunge by 55 percent in FY2020/21. As per DoFE statistics, the number of permits issued dropped to 166,698 in 2020/21 compared to 368,433 in 2019/20.
Despite this increase in labor permit issuance, the prospect of foreign employment does not look rosy at the moment. Looking closely at the statistics of DoEF, it can be seen that the number of people going abroad for employment has continuously decreased in the last four fiscal years. After reaching an all-time high of 642,859 in FY2016/17, the number of Nepali workers seeking jobs abroad has been on a downward trend in the past few years. In FY 2018/19, the number was Rs 508,828, down from 612,685 in FY2017/18.
Saudi Arabia was the First Choice
In FY2021/22, Saudi Arabia emerged as the largest labor destination for Nepali migrant workers with the highest number of labor permits totaling 188,398 issued for the largest Arab economy.
Similarly, Qatar emerged as the second most preferred destination for Nepalis in FY2021/22. A total of 184,503 people obtained work permits for Qatar. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Malaysia, Bahrain, Romania, Japan, and Croatia were among the top ten labor destinations.
According to the department, 122,366 people received work permits for Qatar, 35,848 for Kuwait, 12,040 for Bahrain, 7,402 for Romania, 6,838 for Oman, 5,629 for Japan, and 5,286 for Croatia.
The surge in the number of people preferring Saudi Arabia, according to government officials, is due to Malaysia’s policy of restricting the entry of migrant workers, including Nepalis, due to the pandemic. However, with Malaysia easing entry, it is expected that there will be a surge in the number of migrant workers going to the ASEAN country in the current fiscal year.
UAE was the Most preferred Destination for Women
For Nepali women, UAE emerged as the most preferred destination in FY2021/22. The department issued 21,110 work permits for Nepali women to work in the UAE.
The reason behind women choosing the UAE, according to Ghimire is the remuneration package. The paycheck in UAE is comparatively handsome for female workers compared to other Gulf countries,” said Ghimire.
Qatar is another gulf country where Nepali women have shown their interest to work. A total of 7,122 work permits were issued for Nepali women to work in Qatar in the last fiscal year. The other major labor destinations liked by Nepali women include Kuwait, Cyprus, Malaysia, Maldives, Croatia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Romania.
The department issued 5,339 work permits for Kuwait, 3,638 for Cyprus, 1,397 for Malaysia, 1,160 for Maldives, 1,099 for Croatia, 1002 for Bahrain, 932 for Jordan, and 895 for Romania.
According to Bimal Dhakal, President of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, the work permit issuance for Malaysia declined in the last FY mainly due to the Malaysian government’s restriction on entry to foreigners in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Nepalis preferred Saudi Arabia as the government there eased the process for migrant workers,” said Dhakal.
Recruiters say with Malaysia lifting the restriction, more Nepali workers will go to Malaysia this year. According to Danduraj Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, a large number of Nepali workers have started to seek labor permits to work in Malaysia after the country opened its borders for migrant workers.
“The number is expected to increase further this fiscal year as Malaysian companies have to provide free visas and free-ticket to employees,” said Ghimire.
Likewise, experts also expect a growth in the numbers of Nepali workers going to Qatar for employment this year. The government has recently decided to send Nepalis to Qatar for service sector jobs for a temporary period eyeing the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Qatar is hosting the biggest event in global football this year and needs a huge number of workers.
The oil-rich Gulf country has massively upgraded and built new infrastructure for the football championships scheduled for November and needs workers in large numbers to run them.
According to Dhakal, European countries have emerged as new destinations for migrant workers. “If the visa process was easier, more Nepalis would go to countries like Romania, Poland, Portugal, among other few countries to work in the construction sector,” he said.