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18 Jan 2024

India’s Foreign Ministry issues warning over fake overseas job scams

2:56 pm on 18 January 2024
As of 6 November, MBIE has received 1372 complaints against accredited employers.

Photo: RNZ / Yiting Lin

India's External Affairs Ministry has issued an advisory on the rise of unregistered recruitment agents who charge exorbitant fees.

The ministry's Overseas Employment & Protectorate General of Emigrants Division says there has been a significant rise in the number of overseas job seekers that are being cheated by unregistered recruitment agents.

These agents - mainly operating through social media - provide no contact details, share fake job offers and ask interested migrants to pay large sums of money for fraudulent visas.

"They lure workers to work in difficult and life-threatening conditions," the agency said in a statement.

"Such cases are being reported for recruitment to work in several East European Countries, some of the Gulf countries, Central Asian countries, Israel, Canada, Myanmar and Lao People's Democratic Republic," it said.

In August, more than 115 Indian and Bangladeshi migrant workers were found to be stranded in six separate Auckland properties, sparking an Immigration New Zealand investigation.

Despite paying significant sums of money - between $15,000 and $40,000 - to agents for visas and related jobs, most of these workers were not provided with any paid employment.

The investigation made its first arrest in October after a licensed immigration advisor was charged with two charges of providing false information, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

The incident also prompted the under-fire Labour government to put the accredited employer work visa scheme under review.

In September, the government unveiled an initiative aimed at rescuing scammed workers from further exploitation, offering temporary accommodation and cost-of-living support payments to help them get back on their feet.

India's External Affairs Ministry advises prospective emigrants to seek jobs overseas through registered recruited agents.

The ministry also says that no recruiting agent should charge service fees worth more than 30,000 rupees (about $600), according to the Emigration Act of 1983.

"All unregistered agencies are being warned not to be involved in overseas recruitment activities," the agency said in its statement.

"Such activities are in violation of the Emigration Act 1983 and amount to human trafficking, which is a punishable criminal offense."

In August, the Indian High Commission had also provided details on various mechanisms that are available to non-resident Indians seeking work in New Zealand who are reportedly being exploited by unscrupulous agents.

Anu Kaloti, a spokesperson for the Migrant Workers Association, says the government needs to take immediate action to prevent migrant exploitation.

"Until and unless some of these unregistered recruiters and agents are caught, tried under the Indian judicial system and made an example of, things are unlikely to change," Kaloti says. "Countries such as New Zealand must stop the practice of attaching migrant workers to single employers."

Vinu Choodal, a welder from India, welcomes the Indian government's warning.

Choodal claims he has been overcharged by recruitment agents, vowing to file his complaint with the ministry directly following this development.

"I'm glad they have released this information," Choodal says. "I will get in touch with them."

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