Foreigners with non-tourist visa flood country

KATHMANDU: The government has allowed nearly 3,000 foreigners, 60 per cent from China, to work in different sectors, while the international non-governmental organisations offered lucrative jobs to over 166 third-country nationals, who arrived here along with at least 40 dependents in the current fiscal year.

According to statistics maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs, at least 2,685 foreigners, including 1,769 from China, 185 from the US and 123 from Japan, have obtained visa with work permit since July last year. Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued visa under either diplomatic or official or gratis categories to 2,751 foreigners in a year.

Most of them obtained visa for a year to work in different capacities as recommended by the concerned ministries, according to government officials.

The Ministry of Energy sought work permission from MoHA for 858 foreigners, followed by 522 by Nepal Electricity Authority in a year. The official data obtained by this daily shows that the Ministry of Education allowed 248 foreigners for their work permits while the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation accepted 206 foreigners’ applications since July last year.

The Ministry of Finance recommended visa for 183 foreigners and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Industry welcomed 114 and 103 foreigners respectively to work here in the same period.

According to data, more than 150 Chinese nationals were given visa to work here as teachers, while 87 foreigners obtained ministry’s approval for Peace Corps Volunteers.

At least 17 country directors for different international organisations also obtained MoHA’s approval to serve in the country.

Member Secretary at the Social Welfare Council Rabindra Kumar said that most of the INGOs recruited foreigners as their country representatives or country managers or experts here by obtaining non-tourist visa.

SWC’s record shows that a few INGOs such as United Mission to Nepal and International Nepal Fellowship stood ahead in recruiting more foreigners. “There are hundreds of foreigners who illegally worked with different INGOs by obtaining tourist visa on arrival in a visa year not exceeding 150 days,” said an undersecretary at the MoWCSW.

A record at the Consular Services Department under MoFA shows the department has provided 1,715 foreigners with official visa and 664 more were given gratis visa to work in different agencies and organisations since mid July last year. At least 372 foreigners were also awarded diplomatic visa in a year, it added.

According to Kedar Neupane, Director General at the Department of Immigration, DoI has issued work (non-tourist) visa to 813 foreigners of 57 countries, including 464 Chinese nationals, followed by 41 Americans and 35 British nationals in the last six months.

“DoI has no idea about the foreigners holding official or diplomatic visa as MoFA never shares such information with the department,” he said, referring to a provision of Immigration Act, which states that MoFA shall, on a monthly basis, furnish the DoI with the details setting out the name, nationality, passport number and visa period of the persons to whom visas have been issued by the ministry.