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Pre Departure Orientation For Emigration

1. About Emigration and Employment abroad.

1.1 What is emigration?
“Emigrate” and “Emigration” means the departure out of India of any person with a view to taking up any Employment (whether or not under an agreement or other arrangements to take up such employment and whether with or without the assistance of a registered Recruiting Agent (RA) or Employer) in any country or place outside India.

1.2. What is employment (in the context of employment abroad under Emigration Act 1983)?
“Employment” means any service, occupation or engagement in any kind of work which includes the following

  • Any unskilled work, including any form of industrial or agriculture labour;
  • Any domestic service;
  • Any service, not being a service in a managerial capacity, in any hotel, restaurant, tea-house or other place of public resort;
  • Work as a driver of a truck or other vehicle, mechanic, technician or skilled labourer or artisan;
  • Work as an office assistant or accountant or typist or stenographer or salesman, or nurse or operator of any machine;
  • Work in connection with, or for the purpose of, any cinema, exhibition or entertainment; and

Any such work of a professional or of any other nature as the central government may, having regard to the need for the protection of citizens of India who may be employed in such work outside India and other relevant circumstances, specify by notification.

1.3 How to get recruited for employment abroad legally?
An Indian Emigrant can get recruited for employment aboard legally by the following ways:

1.3.1 Through the Registered Recruitment Agencies (RA).
The most secure and reliable way of getting recruited for overseas employment is through the Registered Recruiting Agents (RA). They are Recruiting Agents registered with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs under the provisions of Emigration Act 1983 and are permitted to conduct the business of recruitment for overseas employment after obtaining a Registration certificate (RC) from the (PGE). The Certificate is granted after taking into account Recruiting Agent's financial soundness, trustworthiness, adequacy of premises, experience in the field of handling manpower export etc., and after obtaining a bank guarantee of Rs.20 Lakhs. The security is intended to secure due performance of the terms and conditions of the Registration Certificate and to meet the cost of repatriation of any recruited worker in the event of his being stranded abroad. Hence it is always advisable to get recruited through a Registered Recruiting Agent.

1.3.2 Through the Foreign Employer directly.
Under Section 16 of the Emigration Act, 1983 an employer can recruit any citizen of India for employment in any country or place outside India either through a Recruiting Agent competent under the Act to make such recruitment or directly in accordance with valid permit issued by the Central government under Section 15 of the Emigration Act. This mode of recruitment is very limited as not many foreign employers have obtained permits from the Ministry for direct recruitment. However the Indian Missions have been authorised under Section 15 (2) of the Emigration Act 1983 to issue specific permits to the Foreign Employers in very limited number of cases which is primarily for unskilled workers like Domestic workers, Helpers, cleaners etc. Prospective Emigrants falling under this category can get recruited directly through the Employers by this mode also.

1.3.3 Through Indian Project Exporters.
Indian workers are also recruited / deployed by the Indian Project Exporters on the projects undertaken by them overseas after the Project Exporters have obtained necessary permit from the government under Emigration Act, 1983.

1.3.4 What is the Service charges payable to Recruiting Agents?
The Recruiting Agents are authorised to charge as service charges from each worker the equivalent to 45 days of contractual wages but not exceeding Rs.20,000.

1.3.5 How and where to find overseas jobs information?
One can look out for overseas job information mainly from Newspapers. Most of the daily newspapers carry overseas advertisements inserted by Registered Agents (RA) (after due approval by POE) on specific days. For example, the following popular dailies in the southern India publish such advertisements on days specified as below:
Daily Thanthi (Tamil) – On Sundays
The Hindu (English)- On Wednesdays
Times of India (English) – On Wednesdays
Further, the website of office of Protector of Emigrants Chennai www.poechennai.in carries a section called ‘upcoming overseas job interviews’ on the home page along with information on the various categories of jobs available approved by the POE on a 24X7 live basis, which gives authentic information about jobs reported to be available overseas through the Registered Agents (RA). The same may be visited and the concerned RAs may be contacted for further details.
In addition, various online job portals like naukri, monster etc. (suited for qualified professionals only) also carries information on vacancies available abroad.

Note: The local TV channels in the rural /semi urban areas carry one line advertisements on overseas jobs inserted by illegal / unregistered agents. These shall not be referred to and no contact should be made with those agents. Further, the details of operation of such agents shall be brought to the notice of POE and Police authorities for legal action. 
(Sample of an overseas job advt. inserted by a Registered Agent (RA) in newspapers.)

1.3.6 How to identify a genuine overseas job advertisement?
The Press Council of India (PCI) in consultation with the Govt. Of India has specified stringent norms for the news papers relating to publishing of Advertisements for Overseas jobs. Accordingly, a genuine advertisement for overseas jobs in the newspaper should carry the Registration certificate (RC) number of the Registered Agent (RA) as issued by the PGE, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. In addition it should also have the following without fail:

  • Full address of the RA with telephone number, post box number, e-mail address, website address etc.
  • A declaration that no fee towards processing application or for any other purpose shall be charged from the applicant;
  • Name of the employer/ country/ posts/jobs/ categories with educational qualification expected;
  • Number of positions/vacancies under each category; and
  • The basic salary offered to each category of job.

Advertisements which do not follow any of the norms above shall not be considered genuine and those without RC number shall be reported to the POE and Police authorities for taking legal action against such agents who have inserted such advts as well as to initiate action against the Newspaper which carries such illegal advts.

1.3.7 How to ensure that the advt issued is from genuine Recruiting Agent and the RA is active as on date?
Every overseas advertisement shall be scrutinized with care for particulars as given above in 1.3.6. After careful scrutiny, kindly note the registration number (RC) of agent in the advt and verify the current status of the same as below:

  • Visit www.poeonline.gov.in and search for the details of the RC /RA under ‘RA search name wise”, “RC number wise” or by using string or phone number.  
  • One can also visit www.poechennai.in and look for the status of ra/rc in case of RAs under POE Chennai jurisdiction.
  • Contact the POE Chennai for further clarifications, if any.
  • POE Chennai contact numbers are 044-24891337 / 24745610.

The RC number as appearing on the advt should be found in the search above with full address of the RA and the RC status should valid (V) on the date. RA/ RC should not be under suspension (S) or Cancelled (C). Otherwise the advt shall be considered illegal and the matter be reported to the POE and Police authorities for action.

1.4. What is ‘Emigration Clearance’?
‘Emigration Clearance (EC) is the legal authorization for ‘emigration’ obtained in the prescribed manner and form from the Protector of Emigrants (POE).  Emigration clearance is issued under provisions of Sec 22(1) of the Emigration Act 1983.  This authorization is currently issued in the form of a ‘security sticker’ duly signed by the POE and gets pasted on the passport of the emigrant who requires Emigration Clearance. 

1.5. Who requires Emigration Clearance?
All Indian citizens whose Passport have been categorized as “Emigration Check Required”(ECR) are required to obtain Emigration Clearance(EC) from the POEs before proceeding to specified “ECR Countries”  for the purpose of employment.  As of now the Passports of all those persons whose educational qualification is below or 10th Standard are categorized as ECR Passports. An endorsement (ECR seal/stamp/remark) to this effect is provided either in the second page or in the last page of the Passport by the passport authorities ie Regional Passport officers (RPOs) at the time of issue of Passports.

1.6. What is ECNR? Who are the persons exempted from ‘Emigration Clearance?’/ List of persons/categories of workers who do not require ‘Emigration Clearance’/ List of persons in whose case 'Emigration check is not required’(ECNR)/Eligible for ECNR Passport.
‘ECNR’ denotes “Emigration Check Not Required”.  All those persons whose Passports do not bear endorsement of ECR seal/stamp/remarks are exempted from obtaining ‘Emigration Clearance’ from the POE.  The following is the list of persons who do not require “Emigration Clearance; the list of persons eligible for ‘ECNR’ passports are as below:

  • All holders of Diplomatic/Official Passports.
  • All gazetted Government Servants.
  • All income-tax payers (including Agriculture Income Tax Payees) in their individual capacity.
  • All professional degree holders, such as Doctors holding MBBS degrees or Degrees in Ayurveda or Homoeopathy; Accredited Journalists; Engineers; Chartered Accountants; Lecturers; Teachers; Scientists; Advocates etc.
  • Spouses and dependent children of category of persons listed form (2) to (4).
  • Persons holding class 10 or higher qualifications.
  • Seamen who are in possession of  or Sea Cadets, Desk Cadets (i) who have passed final examination of three year B.SC Nautical Science Courses at T.S. Chanakya, Mumbai; and (ii) who have undergone three months pre-sea training at any of the Government approved Training institutes such as T. S. Chanakya, T. S. Rehman, T. S. Jawahar, MTI (SCI) and NIPM, Chennai after production of identity cards issued by the Shipping Master, Mumbai/Calcutta/Chennai.
  • Persons holding permanent immigration visas, such as the visas of UK, USA and Australia.
  • Persons possessing two years' diploma from any institute recognized by the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) or State Council of Vocational Training (SCVT) or persons holding three years diploma/equivalent degree from institutions like Polytechnics recognized by Central/State Governments.
  • Nurses possessing qualification recognized under the Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947.
  • All persons above the age of 50 years.
  • All persons who have been staying abroad for more than three years (the period of three years could be either in one stretch or broken) and their spouses.
  • Children below 18 years of age.

 1.7 What are ‘ECR Countries’? List of countries for which ‘Emigration Clearance’ is mandatory.
"Emigration Check required" (ECR) countries are those countries, at Present which are currently specified as ‘ECR’ by the Government of India. It is mandatory for all persons holding ECR Passports to obtain ‘Emigration Clearance’ (EC) from the POE before proceeding on employment to any of these ‘ECR’ countries. List of 17 ECR countries is as below:

  1. United Arab Emirates(UAE)
  2. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia(KSA)
  3. Qatar
  4. Sultanate of Oman
  5. Kuwait
  6. Bahrain
  7. Libya
  8. Jordan
  9. Yemen
  10. Sudan
  11. Syria
  12. Lebanon
  13. Afghanistan
  14. Malaysia
  15. Thailand
  16. Indonesia
  17. Iraq

1.8. What are the countries for which “Emigration Check Not required” (ECNR)? /List of ECNR countries.
All those countries which are not notified as ‘ECR’ by the Government of India are all ‘ECNR’ countries.  

1.9. When ‘Emigration Clearance’ is required?
‘Emigration Clearance’ is mandatory only when an ‘ECR’ Passport holder is proceeding on ‘Employment’ to any of the specified ‘ECR’/”Emigration Check Required” countries.

 1.10. When 'Emigration Clearance' is Not Required”?
‘Emigration Clearance’ is not at all required in all the following cases/circumstances:

  • All ‘ECNR’ Passport holders do not require 'Emigration Clearance' for travelling to any country irrespective of the category of the country and irrespective of the purpose of travel. 
  • All ‘ECR’ Passport holders when travelling to any of the ‘ECNR’ country do not require ‘Emigration Clearance’ irrespective of the purpose of travel.
  • All ‘ECR’ Passport holders when travelling to any of the 17 specified ‘ECR’ countries for purposes 'other than employment' like tour visit/business visit/family visit etc. do not require Emigration Clearance.  However, they should carry a valid two-way return air ticket as a form of assurance of their return to India before the expiry of the visa period. Further they may be required to carry a letter from the sponsor of their visit and other documents as may be specified by the Immigration authorities at the Immigration check counters at all international airports in India; and
  • All pilgrims going for Haj and Umrah to Saudi Arabia and those pilgrims travelling with the declared purpose of performing Ziarat to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Yeman do not require emigration clearance irrespective of their passport category.

 1.11. How to obtain 'Emigration Clearance' from the POE? What is the procedure for obtaining ‘Emigration Clearance’?

  • ‘EC’ can be obtained from the POEs either as ‘Individuals’ directly or through a registered Recruiting Agent (RA) as part of bulk recruitment done by him, by applying to the POEs in the manner and form prescribed for the purpose.
  • Currently, to obtain ‘Emigration Clearance’ the application has to be ‘filed online’ under the appropriate category (individual/RA) in the Ministry’s Website viz. www.poeonline.gov.in (screenshot)
  • On successful filing of the application, a token number and the date of appearance before the POE, is assigned on-line to each candidate individually in the website.  A print-out of the token number assigned (screenshot) has to be taken and presented to the POE with all other documents as prescribed for obtaining 'EC'.
  • After scrutiny of the documents presented and on the complete satisfaction of the requirements, ‘Emigration Clearance’ is granted by the POE on the same day on which the application is filed.

1.12. What are the 'documents' required for obtaining 'Emigration Clearance'?

1.12.1 Documents required for the semi-skilled Workers (Individuals):
Semi-skilled individuals who seek 'Emigration Clearance' directly from the POE (and not through RAs) are required to produce the following documents, in original, for scrutiny and return:

  • Passport valid for a minimum period of six months with a valid employment visa.
  • Employment Contract from foreign employer duly attested by the Indian mission of that country.
  • Challan towards deposit of Emigration fee of Rs. 200/- per head.
  • Insurance policy – Pravasi Bhartiya Bima Yojana (PBBY) obtained for the period of the contract – (Minimum of 2 years and maximum 3 years).

1.12.2. Documents required for Unskilled Workers (Individuals)
Unskilled workers and women (not below 30 years of age) seeking employment abroad as housemaids/domestic workers are required shall furnish in original, the following documents at the time of obtaining Emigration Clearance:

  • Passport valid for a minimum period of six months with valid employment Visa.
  • Employment contract from the foreign employer duly attested by the Indian Mission or permission letter from the concerned Indian Mission/Post.
  • Challan towards deposit of Emigration fees of Rs. 200/- per head.
  • Insurance policy (PBBY) obtained for the period of contract.

1.12.3. Documents required for the skilled/semi-skilled workers (through Recruiting Agents)
Recruiting Agents who seek emigration clearance for skilled/semiskilled workers are required to produce:

  • Passport of the worker valid for a minimum period of six months with valid employment visa.
  • Original employment contract, demand letter and Power of Attorney from the foreign employer.
  • Challan towards deposit of Emigration fees of Rs. 200/- per head.
  • Insurance Policy-(PBBY) obtained for the period of contract.

1.12.4. Documents required for unskilled workers (through Recruiting Agents)
In addition to the requirements for skilled/semiskilled workers, all employment documents mentioned in (1.12.3.) above have to be duly attested by the Indian Mission.

1.12.5 What is work visa/ Employment visa?
It is a legal authorisation which allows a person to take employment in the country of destination. In order to get a work visa, one need to submit the following documents to the Recruitment Agency such as filled in visa application form with two recent passport photographs, valid passport etc. The visa is provided by the Embassy of respective destination countries in India. The visa will be stamped on the passport or the paper form issued as applicable.  The period of validity is also mentioned there. It gives the right to stay and work in the destination countries for a certain period of time.

1.12.6. What is employment contract?
It is an agreement between the employer and employee. This agreement should include all the legal requirements. The following is the details to be furnished in employment contract in the case of ECR category workers:
An agreement under sub-section (3) of section 22 of the Emigration Act read with Rule 15 of the Emigration Rules 1983 shall provide for the following matters: 

  1. Period of employment/place of employment
  2. Wages and other conditions of service
  3. Free food and food allowance provision
  4. Free accommodation
  5. Provision in regard to disposal or transportation to India, of dead body of the emigrant
  6. Working hours, overtime allowance, other working conditions, leave and social security benefits as per local labour laws
  7. To and fro air passage at the employers costs
  8. Mode of settlement of disputes
  9. Medical benefits
  10. Leave benefits
  11. Travel and transportation expenses
  12. Conditions for the termination of employment
  13. Provisions in regard to coverage of special risks including war
  14. Provisions in regard to remittances
  15. Provisions in regard to renewal of contract

1.12.7. What is PBBY? What are its benefits?

PBBY (Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana)
In an effort to safeguard the interests of the emigrant workers, the Government of India had initially introduced the “Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana 2003”, an insurance scheme compulsory for those emigrants who need Emigration Clearance from POEs. After considering the effectiveness of the scheme, the Pravasi Bharatiya Bima Yojana 2006 has been notified on 25th Jan. 2006. It was further amended in 2008 with a view to provide broader and higher coverage to the workers.

The salient features of this revised scheme are:

  • An insurance cover of a minimum sum of Rs. 10.00 lakh payable to the nominee/legal heir in the event of death or permanent disability of insured person. Besides offering a cover of Rs. 10 lakh due to accident, the insurance scheme offers several other benefits to the emigrant worker and his/her dependants.
  • This policy valid for a minimum period of two years or the actual period of employment contract, whichever is longer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It provides maternity benefits to women emigrants subject to a minimum cover of Rs. 25 000.
  • The spouse and two dependent children up to 21 years old shall be entitled to hospitalization cover for a maximum Rs. 25 000 during the period of coverage.
  • The premium charged will be Rs. 275 and Rs. 375 Plus service tax, for a policy periods of two and three years respectively.    

1.13 How the Protector of Emigrants issues Emigration Clearance?
The POE, after satisfying himself about the accuracy of the particulars mentioned in the application and in the other documents submitted along with the application, grants 'Emigration Clearance' in the prescribed manner and form.  In case there is any deficiency, the POE intimates the same by an order in writing to the applicant or, as the case may be, the Recruiting Agent or employer, through whom the applications have been made.

1.14. Grounds on which, POE can reject an application for ‘Emigration Clearance.
Subject to the other provisions of this Act, 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;
  •  the employment which the applicant proposes to take up involves work of a nature which is unlawful according to the laws of India or offends against the public policy of India or is violation of norms of human dignity and decency;
  •  the applicant will have to work or live in sub-standard working or living conditions;
  •  having regard to the prevailing circumstances in the country or place where the applicant proposes to take up employment or the antecedents of the employer under whom 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 behalf are not adequate for the purpose.

2. General guidelines for prospective emigrants: (Doís & Doníts)

2.1 Do’s

  • Do ensure you have a valid passport.  The passport should preferably be valid at least for the next six months so that no immediate inconvenience is caused to you on your reaching the country of employment.
  • Do ensure that you are recruited through an authorized Recruiting Agent. Insist on seeing his registration certificate issued by the Protector General of Emigrants at Delhi. In case of doubt, contact the nearest Protector of Emigrants’ Office.
  • Do ensure that your recruiting agent has the original of the following document:
    • The power of Attorney duly executed by the Foreign  Employer authorizing the agent to recruit workers on his behalf;
    • The Demand letter indicating the type of workers required by him and salaries/perquisites offered by him to the workers;
    • The specimen copy of the employment agreement proposed to be executed; and
    • Visa issued in your name/favour by the foreign Government.
  • Do ensure that the employment documents are attested by the Indian Mission in the country of employment, if you are going as an unskilled worker/Household Service Worker.
  • Do ensure that you have with you a copy of the employment agreement signed between you and your foreign employer or his authorised signatories..
  • Do ensure that the employment agreement clearly specifies the name and complete postal address of your employer, salaries per month in foreign currency, duration of contract/agreement, facility for free/subsidized housing, messing or allowances in lieu thereof, to and fro passage, medical facility, etc.
  • Do ensure that in case of employment in the Gulf countries, the employment agreement is both in English and Arabic.
  • Do ensure that you have opened a Savings Bank Account in one of the banks in India before departure in order to ensure smooth inflow of remittances for your dependents in India.
  • Do ensure that you have a proper ticket and a valid visa stamped on your passport before you emplane.
  • Do ensure that you are familiar with the provisions of the local labour laws.  You may either request your agent or contact the nearest Protector of Emigrants for the purpose.
  • Do ensure that you have been briefed by your Recruiting Agent about the working/living conditions in the country of employment.
  • Do ensure that after your arrival in the country of employment you have obtained resident permit/identity card.
  • Do ensure that you have obtained a copy of the contract.
  • In case of any difficulty, do contact the Indian Mission in the country of employment.
  • Do note that before final departure for India on termination of contract, you contact the Indian Mission in respective countries for latest customs and baggage regulations etc.
  • Do ensure that a copy of your passport is available with you and your family back home.

2.2 Don’ts

  • Do not pay any money to your agent without obtaining a valid receipt. Always pay your service charges by cheque or demand draft or by deposit in the agents account and keep a copy of the same.
  • Do not sign the employment agreement unless you have read it or it has been read out to you and you have understood all the clauses in it
  • Do not sign any blank paper on your arrival in the country of employment or allow the employer to execute any agreement other that the one signed by you in India and registered with the Protector of Emigrants.
  • Do not leave India unless you are satisfied that your employer knows the exact date and time of your arrival so that you are not stranded there.
  • Do not indulge in any collective industrial action like strikes, go-slow and mass demonstrations etc.  While in employment abroad as they are illegal and strictly banned.  Your involvement in any such activities may result in your imprisonment or deportation back to India.
  • Do not change your sponsor/employer in the foreign country during the period of agreement.  Otherwise, you are liable to fine and other action under the local labour laws.
  • Do not indulge in non-Islamic religious practices during your stay in those countries like eating, drinking, or smoking in public places during the month of Ramzan.
  • Do not keep in your possession or consume alcoholic drinks during your stay in the Gulf countries as it is strictly prohibited by the respective Governments.
  • Do not part with your passport and other documents during your stay abroad.
  • Do not move away from the work site without valid identity card issued by your employer.
  • Do not fall prey to touts/sub-agents who may exploit you.

2.3 Where to make a complaint in case of a problem or grievance? Or what are the various point of contacts to prefer a complaint?
You may like to contact any of the following in case of emergencies or grievances relating to an emigrant worker: 

  • Registered agents through whom you were recruited
  • Overseas Worker Resource Centre- (OWRC) Operated by MOIA which is toll free line (24X7) in seven languages
    • 1800 11 3090 (within India)
    • +91 11 4050 3090 (anywhere in the world)
  • All Indian embassies/ consulates
    • Toll free contact lines available in all ECR  countries
  • All POEs or PGE,MOIA
  • POE Chennai can be contacted as below:

2.4 What are the various measures under taken by the MOIA, Govt of India for welfare of Indian workers abroad?

  • OWRC, New Delhi operated by the Ministry provides single point contact for filing complaints on various issues connected with Emigrants.
  • 24/7 toll free lines are also operated in embassies
  • Indian Workers Resource Centres (IWRC) is set up in most ECR embassies.
  • Shelters for women housemaids in distress operated in ECR  countries
  • Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)- available in all ECR embassies for help to emigrants on range of issues. The Ambassadors have been authorized to permit expenses to be met on various issues including repatriation, medical emergency, legal expenses etc for Indian workers in need on merit basis.

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