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L.Srikumar Pai
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Tips and Guidelines for foreign Employment

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How can one seek employment abroad?

A person can take up employment in a foreign country either through a registered recruiting agent or directly through a foreign employer or a project exporter.

Where can one get detailed information about rules, regulations and procedures about overseas employment? For detailed information click here.

Is there any ban on deployment of Indian women to foreign countries?
For protection and security of women emigrants, no emigration clearance is granted to women below 30 years of age holding ECR pasport. This restriction applies to women emigrants having ECR endorsed passports and going to any of the 17 ECR countries.

What precaution should be taken regarding advertisements for overseas jobs?
In case of ad by a Registered Recruiting Agent, it must be checked that registration certificate number is clearly mentioned. Similarly, ads by Foreign Employers and Project Exporters should indicate their permit number. Full address with Telephone Number, Post Box Number, e-mail address of the advertiser should be mentioned in addition to the job and salary particulars to enable the respondent to check the veracity of the job and the employers. Clarifications in this regard could be sought from the office of any Protector General of Emigrants on the helpline

 Is attestation of employment documents necessary in all cases?

Attestation of employment documents by the Indian Mission concerned is mandatory in the case of recruitment of "unskilled workers" and "housemaids" for any of 17 ECR countries. Aattestation is required for all categories of workers in Yemen, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait.

What are the documents needed to be submitted by skilled or semi-skilled workers planning to emigrate?
Semi-skilled workers, who seek emigration clearance directly from the Protectors of Emigrants (PoEs), and not through recruiting agents, are required to produce the following documents in original:
•Passport valid for a minimum period of six months
•Valid employment visa
•Employment contract signed by foreign employer
•Challan towards deposit of prescribed fee
•Insurance policy from any of the listed companies under Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana (PBBY-2006 revised in 2008)
What are the documents needed to be submitted by unskilled workers planning to emigrate?
Unskilled workers and a household service workers seeking employment abroad should furnish (in original) the following documents at the time of obtaining emigration clearance:
•Passport valid for a minimum period of six months
•Valid employment visa.
•Employment contract signed by the foreign employer and duly attested by the Indian Mission or permission letter from the Indian Mission/post concerned.
•Challan towards deposit of prescribed fee
•Insurance policy (from any of the listed companies under Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana (PBBY-2006 revised in 2008)
On what grounds can an application for emigration clearance be rejected?
Subject to other provisions of the Emigration Act 1983, the PoE may reject an application for emigration clearance on any one or more of the following grounds:
•That the terms and conditions of employment which the applicant proposes to take up are discriminatory or exploitative.
•That the employment which the applicant proposes to take up involves work of a nature which is unlawful according to the laws of India or goes against the public policy of India or violates the norms of human dignity and decency.
•That the applicant will have to work or live in sub-standard working or living conditions.
•That having regard to the prevailing circumstances in the country or place where the applicant proposes to take up employment or any other relevant circumstances, it would not be in the interest of the applicant to emigrate.
•That no provision or arrangement has been made for meeting the expenses which may be incurred in case it becomes necessary to arrange for the repatriation to India of the applicant, or that the provisions or arrangements made in this regard are not adequate for the purpose.

Who are recruiting agents?
To streamline recruitment for overseas employment and to safeguard the interests of the emigrants, the Emigration Act 1983 stipulates that only recruiting agents duly registered under the Act can conduct the business of recruitment for overseas employment.

How can one know that a recruiting agent (RA) is registered or not?
For a list of recruiting agents registered under the Emigration Act, 1983 click here.

What has one to ensure before entering into any transaction with the recruiting agent?
First ensure that the agent has displayed his Registration Certificate (RC) which is valid at that point of time. Then note down the particulars of job and foreign employer and cross check the same with the foreign employer as well as on Prior Approval Category (PAC) list on this website. In case of doubt, verify the genuineness of the job as well as the employer through Indian Mission in that country on telephone or through e-mail, the details of which are available on  and
DO NOT handover any money, your passport, educational or experience certificates to the agent unless the genuineness of the job and employer has been established.
DO NOT pay more than the prescribed fee (Rs. 5000/- for skilled workers, Rs. 3000/- for semi-skilled workers, Rs. 2000/- for unskilled workers and Rs. 10000/- for highly skilled workers) and take receipt against any payment made.

What are service charges that a prospective emigrant needs to pay to a recruiting agent?
Recognizing that the recruiting agents are providing a service to prospective emigrants, the Government has allowed them to levy service charges. However, in a bid to prevent exorbitant charges, the Government has limited the maximum service charges that such agents can charge from each worker. The following are the rates of service charges category-wise:
Unskilled workers: Rs. 2,000
Semi-skilled workers: Rs. 3,000
Skilled workers: Rs. 5,000
Others: Rs. 10,000

Can foreign employers go for direct recruitment?
Direct recruitment is permitted in the case of foreign employers who have obtained a permit from the competent authority in this regard.

What is Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana?
In an effort to further safeguard the interests of emigrant workers from India, the Government of India has introduced the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana (PBBY), an insurance scheme compulsory for all workers going abroad on ECR passports (except to countries for which emigration check is not required) for employment. It was during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual conclave of the Indian diaspora, held in 2003 that the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, announced the scheme. The scheme was revised in February 2006 to increase the insurance cover from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and add other benefits for the workers. In 2008 the cover was further enhanced to Rs 10 lakh. It is an indicator of the Government's commitment to look after the interests of Indian workers employed abroad.

What is the cover offered by the scheme to the insured person?
Initially, the scheme offered an insurance cover of Rs. 2 lakh payable to the nominee/legal heir in the event of death or permanent disability of any Indian emigrant while in employment abroad and who had obtained the emigration clearance certificate before going abroad.

However, at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006 held in Hyderabad, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced increase of the PBBY cover from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh to provide broader coverage to the emigrant workers. In 2008 the cover was further enhanced to Rs 10 lakh. PBBY covers the entire period of the employment contract or two years, whichever is longer.

What are the other salient features of PBBY?
Besides offering a cover of Rs. 10 lakh, the insurance scheme offers several other benefits to the emigrant worker and his/her dependants.

In case of death, besides the cost of transporting the body, the cost incurred on the one-way airfare of one attendant is reimbursed by the insurance company.

If a worker is not received by the employer on his arrival at the destination abroad or there is any substantive change in the employment contract to his disadvantage or if the employment is prematurely terminated within the period of employment for no fault of the emigrant, the insurance company reimburses one way economy class airfare provided the grounds of repatriation are certified by the Indian Mission/post concerned.

In cases where the repatriation is arranged by the Indian Mission/post, the insurance company reimburses the actual expenses to the Indian Mission/post concerned.

The insurance policy is valid for a minimum period of two years or the actual period of contract, whichever is longer.

The insured person is covered for a minimum sum of Rs. 25,000 in connection with the legal expenses incurred by him in any litigation relating to his/her employment. In case of women workers the policy provides maternity benefit of Rs 20,000.

What are the medical benefits that are offered by the scheme?
PBBY offers the following medical benefits to the insured person and his/her dependants:
The insured person is reimbursed actual one-way economy class airfare by the insurance company, if he falls sick or is declared medically unfit to commence or continue working and the service contract is terminated by the foreign employer within 12 months of taking the insurance.

The insurance policy also provides medical cover of a minimum of Rs. 50,000 as cash-less hospitalization or reimbursement of actual medical expenses of the insured emigrant worker on grounds of accidental injuries or sickness occurring during the period of insurance whether in India or in the country of his employment.

The insurance policy provides maternity benefits, subject to minimum cover of Rs. 20,000 in case of women emigrants provided the requisite documents are certified by the Indian Mission/post concerned.

The family of the emigrant worker in India consisting of spouse and two dependent children up to 21 years of age are entitled to hospitalization cover in the event of death or permanent disability of the insured person for a maximum amount of Rs. 25,000 per annum.

What premium is to be paid by the worker for the PBBY?
The insurance company charges fair and reasonable premium (about Rs. 275 and Rs. 375 for policy periods of 2 and 3 years respectively). Taxes are charged as applicable. The Government has also stipulated that an emigrant can select a company of his/her choice for the insurance cover.

 What is the procedure for withdrawal of security deposited by an emigrant?
An emigrant is entitled to withdraw the security deposit after lapse of a period of three years from the date of deposit. The emigrant is required to personally present his/her passport and the used ticket along with the Bank Receipt to the POE concerned. The deposit can be withdrawn from the Bank after taking approval from the POE. Kindly note that no security deposit is obtain for the emigrant since the launch of PBBY in 2003. As such, withdrawal of security is applicable only for those workers who emigrated before 2003

There are a large number of Indian workers in the Gulf nations. Are there any special guidelines for Indians immigrating to the Gulf region for employment?

The Protector General of Emigrants has issued the following guidelines especially for people going to the Gulf for employment:
•If you are a foreign worker in Saudi Arabia, you can be arrested if you are found without your 'Iqama' at any place or time. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), laws demand that you must not move about in public without your 'Bataka'. Iqamas and Batakas are identity cards issued by the two countries to all foreign workers soon after they settle down in their jobs.
•Most of the Gulf countries do not permit any change in employer. On the termination of your contract, even if it is premature, you must leave the country.
•People seeking jobs abroad must deal only with the registered recruiting agents and must not pay more than the prescribed service charges. Receipts of all payments made to the recruiting agent should be obtained and preserved.
•Emigrant workers must obtain their service agreements in both English and Arabic and must not in the country of employment part with their passports and copies of the service contracts.
•Non-payment or delayed payment of wages can be reported to Indian embassy.
•In Saudi Arabia, a worker cannot take up additional employment. If the worker is discharged without valid reason, he can file a stay application with the Director of Labor Office within 15 days.

 How does the Government of India handle complaints filed by emigrant workers?
The complaints made by emigrants or intending emigrants against the registered recruiting agents are examined by the Protector General of Emigrants, if necessary in consultation with the Indian Mission abroad. Action is taken, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Emigration Act, 1983, and rules framed thereunder.

Complaints against unauthorized/illegal recruiting agents are referred to the police authorities for investigation.

Complaints against foreign employers are taken up with the Indian Missions abroad. A recalcitrant foreign employer is blacklisted (by placing him in the PAC list) from future recruitment in consultation with the Indian Mission. A list of foreign employers under the Prior Approval Category (PAC) is available on the website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs at

Besides this, the PGE holds public hearings on every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at the office of Protector of Emigrants, Jaisalmer House, New Delhi where an aggrieved person can meet the PGE for redressal of his grievance without any prior appointment. The PGE also conducts similar public hearings on Fridays by rotation at other POE offices located outside Delhi.

What is the nature of complaints made by Indian workers going abroad for employment?
As a result of progressive liberalization, the number of Indians going abroad for employment has increased significantly. However, there have been cases of emigrants facing serious difficulties including exploitation at the hands of foreign employers. Following are the types of complaints received by the offices of the Protector General of Emigrants (PGE) and Protectors of Emigrants (POEs):

1.The employment contract unilaterally changed to the disadvantage of the workers by the foreign employers.
2.The worker put to a job different from the one for which he was recruited in India.
3.The worker not given any employment at all by the employer or made to look for a job himself and forced to pay a commission out of his salary
4.Registered recruiting agent charging a higher service charge than prescribed
5.Employers not paying wages on time Employer terminating the employment contract prematurely
6.Unsatisfactory living and working conditions or harassment Delay in payment of death or disability compensation etc.
What measures have been taken by the Government to protect the interests of emigrating workers?
The Government is committed to protect the interests of Indian emigrants. The PGE makes all efforts to redress the grievances of the emigrants with the help of the recruiting agents, the Indian Missions/posts abroad, foreign governments and/or foreign employers concerned. The Indian Missions provide assistance and take up complaints/grievances of Indian emigrant workers with the foreign authorities concerned for amicable settlement.

To check fraudulent practices, recruiting agents are required to furnish the demand letter and the power of attorney issued by the foreign employer as well as a specimen employment contract for obtaining emigration clearance.

All cases of recruitment by illegal recruiting agents are referred to the police for criminal action. All state and union territories have also been requested to instruct the police stations to keep a strict vigil against illegal recruitment.

 What are the things to ensure before one leaves India for employment abroad?
Before you leave India to take up a job in a foreign country, you should ensure that:
•You have a valid passport (for next 6 months) and employment visa.
•You have a copy of the agreement signed by you and your foreign employer or his agent.
•You have an insurance policy from an insurance company under the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana.
•You have a savings bank account to enable you to send remittances from abroad.

What are the points to keep in mind once one reaches the foreign country offering employment?
Once you reach the destination country where you have been given a job, you should always remember that:
•You should not lose your passport at any cost
•You should not sign any other agreement or any blank piece of paper.
•You should not strike work or resort to agitations, because it is illegal and you can be sent back to India.
•You should always keep the address and telephone number of the Indian embassy with you.
•You should report all grievances to the Indian embassy.

( Courtesy: The Ministry of Overseas Indian affairs )

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