A chance for illegals to go home

PUTRAJAYA: Some 600,000 undocumented foreign workers who are not involved in the Workforce Recalibration Programme (WRP) have been urged to take the opportunity to return to their home country through the Migrant Repatriation Programme, which kicked off yesterday.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said they have been given the chance until the end of this year to return to their country of origin without being subjected to legal action, except for compounds for some offences under the Immigration Act.

“As of noon today (yesterday), a total of 848 illegal immigrants have registered to participate in the Migrant Repatriation Programme,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Saifuddin Nasution also reminded foreigners not to seek the services of an agent but to come to the Immigration office themselves to register or do any business.

“Do not use any agent service. Forget it. The government will not entertain any application from that party (agent) or a third party,” he added, Bernama reported.

WRP is a government initiative to provide opportunities for foreigners who overstay or do not have a valid passport to stay in the country to meet the workforce needs of critical sectors.

The programme started yesterday and will go on until Dec 31, with the aim of allowing illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin voluntarily.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin Nasution said the remaining quota of foreign workers in the formal sector through the WRP that are still active and have paid the levy, but have not yet been issued a Visa With Reference (VDR) on March 31, will be cancelled.

He said the quota levy payment will be returned to the employer.

“The deadline for the entry of new formal sector foreign workers with the VDR is May 31 and no more entry of formal foreign workers from the active quota is allowed starting June 1,” he said.

He also urged the employers involved to speed up the entry of foreign workers for the WRP programme, but said they must comply with all the conditions and labour laws.

Regarding levy improvements, Saifuddin Nasution said the government will implement a more employer- and industry-friendly levy return policy, which also came into force yesterday.

He said the improvements included a reduction in the processing time for levy refunds from 53 days to 28 days for applications at the approval stage of the Immigration Department director-general.

He said employers are also allowed to claim a refund of the foreign worker levy payment after six months of validity of the Conditional Approval Letter, with the entire remaining quota of foreign workers handed over to the government.

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