Nepal no country for expats’ spouses?

Kathmandu, December 4

Expatriates in Nepal have been facing difficulty bringing their spouses into the country owing to lack of legal provision, which could dissuade skilled foreign workers from coming to work in Nepal and also dent the flow of foreign direct investment into the country.

While the new Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act allows expats in the country to bring their children, it is mum on the provision for their spouses. This policy ambiguity has made it difficult for expats in Nepal to get visa for their spouses.

As per the record of the Department of Industry, since the new FITTA was introduced on 27 March 2018, more than 10 foreign expats have lodged complaints at the department seeking simplification of the procedures for getting visa for their spouses. The Department of Industry has notified the Department of Immigration about the issue and is seeking a feasible way out.

Some staffers of a famous multinational software development company recently reported problems in getting visa recommendation for their spouses. “The company established its regional base in Nepal last year, but now we are facing major hassles in bringing spouses of expats,” said a Nepali representative of the company, seeking anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

According to the source, the company executives are now wondering whether to continue their business in Nepal or shift their investment to another country.

Stating that such issues need to be addressed promptly and seriously by the authorities concerned, the representative added, “The government’s apathy to such matters can hinder its aim of increasing the flow of foreign direct investment and propelling the economy towards double digit growth.”

To attract foreign investment in the country, the government has introduced or amended a number of laws such as the Industrial Enterprises Act, Special Economic Zone Act and Public-Private Partnership and Investment Act.

Udaya Kumar Gupta, head of Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Section at the Department of Industry, acknowledged facing problems when making recommendations for visas of expats’ spouses.

“We’ll soon introduce a regulation based on FITTA, but to address this issue, the act itself needs to be amended.” In other words, expats are likely to continue to face hassles bringing their spouses to Nepal for a while. This is because the Parliament needs to give a go-ahead to the amendment of any act tabled by the related ministry.

According to Gupta, the Department of Immigration has been issuing visas for spouses of expats as per the law at present since the Department of Industry is unable to make the recommendation based on the existing FITTA. Gupta added that the Department of Industry had already held a discussion with its line ministry, but failed to come up with a concrete solution. “We plan to discuss the issue with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs soon to find a way out.”