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Indian Immigration Act must be scrapped, says KPA

The Indian Immigration Act of 1984 should be comprehensively amended. Speaking about the welfare of non-resident Indians across the Gulf countries, the Kerala Pravasi Association (KPA) said in a recent statement that the country needs new Immigration laws that follow a thorough comprehensive policy for overseas recruitment and general welfare of non-resident Indians.

“Absence of a proper immigration law is a setback for Indian workers abroad.

“Indian workers are continuously being exploited in foreign countries. These workers board the plane with high expectations and there must be firm laws designed to protect them. Countries must remain responsible for their citizens living abroad.

There has been a disparity in the attitude of our government, especially the Department of External Affairs, in this regard and it is time for change.”

“Central and state governments together must take the initiative to implement reforms that will help overseas Indians, who play a crucial role in the economic growth of the country. The Government cannot neglect the expatriates anymore.”

India still follows the British India Emigration Act, which was enacted in 1922 by the occupying British government, to evacuate workers from India to foreign countries. Even after decades of independence, the successive governments have not changed this. After constant pleas and interventions by the expatriate community, in 1983 the Indian government renamed the old British act into the ‘Indian Emigration Act’ without making any significant changes to the Act.

“Even after all these years, there is no wage protection or legal protection that Indian citizens living abroad are legally entitled to.”

“It is time for change. It is time to reform the Immigration Act and set up a Central Government Department of Migrant Workers for the welfare, protection and promotion of migrant workers and overseas Indians. The outdated 1983 Immigration Act, which only regulates the entry and exit of people across the border must be overhauled and formal immigration policies must be set,” emphasized KPA.

According to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (UN-IOM) World Migration Report 2020, there are 18 million migrants from India.

“It is terribly saddening that there is no independent immigration department or laws to handle the plight of many non-resident Indians, their welfare and other concerning matters.”

The Kerala Pravasi Association (KPA) has demanded that the central government urgently create a special immigration department and implement laws that solely address the needs, inadequacies and welfare of expatriates living abroad.