New programme lets migrants off the hook without being prosecuted

PUTRAJAYA: Foreigners without a valid travel pass or who have overstayed will only be fined RM500 if they want to return home under a new Migrant Repatriation Programme which will start on March 1, says the Immigration Department.

Those who violated their travel passes or permits will only be charged RM300 to return to their country of origin, said department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh (pic).

ALSO READ: Migration Repatriation Programme to commence on March 1, says Home Ministry

“No one under the programme will be prosecuted,” he added.

“All they need to do is surrender themselves so that they can be processed and sent home rather than stay in Malaysia illegally.”

The programme will run until Dec 31.

“For this programme, the department is not appointing any agent to manage the repatriation process. The foreigners can just do this themselves,” he told The Star.

Ruslin said undocumented foreigners should not be afraid of being arrested and prosecuted if they come forward to sign up for the programme.

“We will not take action against those who surrender themselves for the programme. Don’t be afraid, just surrender yourself and we will process your return home,” he said.

This assurance is important as fear of arrest will only allow unscrupulous people to act as agents and overcharge the foreigners.

The director-general explained that while court action would not be taken against those applying for the repatriation programme, they would have to pay a fine to exit the country.

Besides the fine, foreigners must possess a passport or valid travel document issued by their country of origin. They must also have a one-way ticket to their county of origin with a departure date within 14 days from their application for the programme.

“They must also have sufficient money to pay for the fine. The payment term is cashless as the department no longer conducts cash transactions,” Ruslin added.

Undocumented foreigners who are 18 years and below will not be fined, which will allow adults to return home with their children without extra burden. However, other conditions remain.

Ruslin said those who want to sign up for the programme should visit state immigration offices throughout the peninsula and Labuan, adding that Sabah and Sarawak have yet to participate.

“The department will also carry out engagement sessions with foreign missions, particularly with labour source countries, to explain about the new programme.

“We also want to seek their assistance to inform their people here of this latest repatriation initiative and encourage those who have overstayed to return home,” he added.

“Engagement with embassies is also important because we want to get their support, especially in aiding people who need valid travel documents before they can be repatriated,” he added.

On Jan 31, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced that the Migrant Repatriation Programme would start on March 1 to enable undocumented foreigners to return to their countries of origin without being prosecuted.

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