Govt keeping tab on foreigners visiting Nepal

Kathmandu, November 25

The government expelled and sent home two Japanese women on the charge of proselytisation and barred them from entering Nepal for five years on November 15.

Mari Ikura and Yasuko Owa were found luring poor and disadvantaged people into conversion to Christianity. On July 9, Fillipino national De Vera Richard and his Indonesian wife Rita Gonga were deported to their respective countries for their involvement in forceful religious conversion, which is illegal in Nepal. They allegedly converted Nepali Hindus to Christianity. The two, who were operating a restaurant in Pulchowk and were working as pastors at a church in Lalitpur. They were also barred from entering Nepal for a year.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, as per the recommendation of the Department of Immigration, has expelled or deported as many as 1,424 foreign citizens on the charge of overstaying in Nepal over a period of five years (2013-2017). The cases were related to immigration offence.

DoI statistics show that 3,050,837 foreigners visited Nepal during the period of five years. According to the Immigration Rules, if a foreigner who has overstayed without renewing the validity period of tourist visa in excess of the period of 150 days, he/she shall be expelled from the country. The offender is also liable to a fine of three US dollars per day and an additional fine of up to Rs 50,000.

Those facing expulsion included citizens of 51 countries, including China, Pakistan, Russian, Bangladesh, Germany, France, Korea, America, Britain, Italy, Israel, Australia, Canada, Uzbekistan, Portugal, Taiwan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Iran, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru and Denmark, among others.

Many foreigners overstaying in Nepal were found working without permit or converting Hindus to Christianity. Any foreign national residing temporarily in Nepal is not allowed to engage in activities other than the purpose for which the visa was issued. The tendency among foreigners of overstaying has become a problem. The trend has increased for  want of effective mechanism to keep tab on foreigners staying in Nepal, a DoI source conceded. He said thousands foreigners, mostly Chinese and Bangladeshis, were suspected of living illegally in Nepal.

Similarly, 526 foreigners were deported after they served jail sentence for various crimes, including drug trafficking, smugging of fake and illegal currency, fraud and banking offence, among others, during the fiscal 2007/08-2017/18.

DoI Director and Spokesperson Bishnu Hari Upadhyay told THT that immigration authorities were working in coordination with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, district administration offices, police and tourism entrepreneurs to effectively monitor the activities of foreigners visiting Nepal.

“The Foreign Nationals Monitoring Directives recently endorsed by the government envisages central level monitoring and regulation committee led by DoI director general and district level committee led by chief district officer to keep tab on and control illegal activities of foreigners staying in Nepal. We are working accordingly to initiate action against anyone violating immigration law and rules,” he informed.