Govt stops processing visa applications of foreign workers
BHOJ RAJ POUDEL
KATHMANDU, Nov 8: The government has stopped processing visa applications of foreign workers and providing them work permits for an indefinite period of time after evidences showed some of the applicants had ulterior motives.
The Ministry of Industry (MoI) has said it would resume the process only after a new integrated standard for issuance of work permits is put in place.
"No foreign workers will be able to process visa application or obtain work permit for the next few weeks till the integrated standard is launched," a MoI official said.
Anil Kumar Thakur, joint secretary at MoI, also confirmed the news. "All applications that the ministry received were returned to the Department of Industry (DoI)," Thakur said. "Applicants have to re-apply as per the government´s new standard to obtain work permit for foreign workers."
Although the government´s new integrated standard is expected to provide one-window system for visa processing by easing work permit application process for foreign workers, the latest halt is expected to hurt companies such as Unilever Nepal and Ncell whose foreign workers are waiting to be eligible to work in Nepal.
"Unilever Nepal has applied to obtain work permit for an international staff who comes from Bangladesh and Ncell has filed applications on behalf of 28 staff who come from the Netherlands," the source revealed.
The source further revealed that these companies had filed applications on behalf of their foreign staff members around five months ago. However, they could not be processed due to inadequate documents.
Unilever Nepal and Ncell denied to comment on the issue despite repeated attempts of Republica.
"With the latest decision, they (the companies) will have to wait until integrated standard is put in place," the source said.
The government believes that the introduction of integrated standard will help it identify ´genuine´ workers coming to the country, Thakur said.
Currently, Industrial Promotion Division (IPD), entrusted with the task of encouraging and facilitating domestic and foreign investors to invest in the country, has started consultations with other concerned ministries and government agencies to develop an integrated standard for visa processing.
So far, foreign workers had to get approval from the labor department and the Ministry of Home (MoH) to be eligible to work in Nepal. The MoI and the DoI coordinates with the MoH and labor department to expedite visa application processing.