The thought of returning home from abroad after losing jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a key concern for Indian expatriates, said Shubham Singh, Protector of Emigrants for Karnataka and Goa region. "The major issues faced by emigrants during the pandemic relate to job losses, often because their employers have shut down businesses, and safe return to India. These are primary concerns of a large number of emigrants," Singh told IANS.
"In most cases, their employers and recruitment agencies aid and assist affected individuals to return to India. In some cases, if the recruitment agency refuses to do so, we can step in and ensure that the agencies do the needful. We work along with the Embassies concerned to facilitate their safe return to India, if they so wish," he said.
The POE functions under the Emigration Act, 1983, with an objective to protect the interest of and aid and advice Indian emigrants going abroad or presently working abroad, and is also responsible for granting emigration clearance to prospective emigrants as per the procedure. Singh said that one of the mandates of his agency was to track down and probe illegal overseas recruitment agencies, which dupe aspiring emigrants seeking green pastures abroad.
And Goa, the top official said, also had its share of unregistered agents, many of whom are under investigation.
"There are eight registered recruitment agencies in Goa. We are presently investigating complaints received against 32 unregistered agencies and individuals in Goa," Singh said.
"In my experience working as Protector of Emigrants, the common cases of fraud are related to payments made by candidates to overseas recruitment agencies, but failed to receive any job offers. Or instances wherein a specific job position or salary was promised by the recruitment agency, but a candidate learns on arrival at his or her overseas destination that the job profile or salary is not as promised," he said.
Goa Director General of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena, Singh said, had assured to work closely with the POE to track down fraud agents in the state. Goa has a large expat population working mainly in the oil-rich Middle East as well as on board cruise liners, he said while adding that there has been a line of outreach for emigrants headed for or residing in that region.
"We advise people that they should be aware of local laws of the land where they are looking to seek employment. They should also acquaint themselves and be aware of their rights as Indian citizens and that they can approach the offices of the POE for any grievances they may have which will be taken up with the offices concerned," he said.