India's External Affairs Ministry warns about rising unregistered recruitment agents exploiting job seekers, primarily through social media, and charging excessive fees. These agents deceive workers into accepting jobs in difficult conditions. Immigration NZ investigated and arrested an immigration advisor involved in false information. The government introduced initiatives to support scammed workers, while the ministry advises job seekers to use registered agents. Unregistered agencies engaging in overseas recruitment face legal consequences, and non-resident Indians seeking work in New Zealand are provided with protection mechanisms. Migrant Workers Association urges immediate action to prevent exploitation, and a welder from India plans to file a complaint for justice.
India's External Affairs Ministry has issued an advisory regarding the increasing number of unregistered recruitment agents engaging in fraudulent practices and charging excessive fees from overseas job seekers. The ministry's Overseas Employment & Protectorate General of Emigrants Division has observed a significant surge in the cases of job seekers who have been deceived by these unregistered agents.
These unregistered agents primarily operate through social media platforms, where they provide no contact details and share fake job offers. Interested migrants are then asked to pay large sums of money for fraudulent visas.
The ministry states that these unregistered agents entice workers to accept employment in challenging and life-threatening conditions. Such cases have been reported in several countries, including East European countries, certain Gulf countries, Central Asian countries, Israel, Canada, Myanmar, and Lao People's Democratic Republic.
In August, Immigration New Zealand initiated an investigation after discovering over 115 Indian and Bangladeshi migrant workers stranded in six properties in Auckland. These workers had paid significant amounts, ranging from $15,000 to $40,000, to agents for visas and jobs but did not receive any paid employment.
In October, the investigation led to the arrest of a licensed immigration advisor who was charged with providing false information. This offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The incident also prompted the Labour government to review the accredited employer work visa scheme.
In September, the government introduced an initiative to support scammed workers. It offers temporary accommodation and cost-of-living support to help them recover from exploitation.
India's External Affairs Ministry advises prospective job seekers to utilise registered recruitment agents for overseas employment opportunities. The ministry emphasises that no recruiting agent should charge service fees exceeding 30,000 rupees (approximately $600) in accordance with the Emigration Act of 1983.
The ministry warns all unregistered agencies against engaging in overseas recruitment activities, as such actions are considered violations of the Emigration Act 1983 and classified as human trafficking, which is a punishable criminal offence.
Additionally, the Indian High Commission provided information on available mechanisms for non-resident Indians seeking work in New Zealand to protect them from unscrupulous agents.
Anu Kaloti, a spokesperson for the Migrant Workers Association, urges the government to take immediate action to prevent migrant exploitation. Kaloti believes that catching and prosecuting unregistered recruiters and agents under the Indian judicial system and making an example of them is crucial for bringing about change. Kaloti also advocates for ending the practice of tying migrant workers to single employers.
Vinu Choodal, a welder from India, appreciates the advisory by the Indian government and intends to file a complaint directly with the ministry. Choodal claims to have been overcharged by recruitment agents and views this development as an opportunity to seek justice.