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Britain Makes it Tougher for Indians to Work in UK

Tougher rules were announced for students bringing dependents to the UK. Undergraduate students are no longer allowed to bring their partners or children…reports Asian Lite News

An estimated 300,000 non-Britons – many of them Indians – will be affected by the British government on Monday raising the bar for people eligible to apply for skilled worker visas for the United Kingdom. The minimum salary that an applicant must now command is 38,700 pounds, up from 26,000 pounds.

“Enough is enough,” said Home Secretary James Cleverly in the House of Commons. The policy is designed, he added, to reduce net migration to the UK. Net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and the people leaving – was 745,000 in 2022 and has become deeply unpopular with Britons across the board.

One of the main arguments for exiting the European Union (EU) was to control immigration – which compulsory free movement of people in the EU could not prevent. This has been defeated by people swamping the UK from other parts of the world, including significantly from India.

Those coming on health and social care visas, mostly nurses, will, however, be exempt from the higher salary threshold. They will not, though, be permitted to bring dependents, namely their partners and children, with them. Cleverly stated this will “end the abuse of the Health and Care Visa”. Nurses in the UK also come from India as well as from other parts of Asia, Africa. and the West Indies.

Cleverly asserted: “Approximately 120,000 dependents accompanied 100,000 care workers and senior care workers in the year ending September 2023. Only 25 per cent of dependents are estimated to be in work, meaning a significant number are drawing on public services and not helping to grow the economy.”

Earlier this year, tougher rules were announced for students bringing dependents to the UK. Undergraduate students are no longer allowed to bring their partners or children.

Cleverly also indicated that the health surcharge payable by foreign job seekers will rise by 66 per cent – from 624 pounds to 1,035 pounds.

Without criticising the move, the opposition Labour party’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper maintained the new proposals are “an admission of years of total failure by this Conservative government”.

She slammed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by saying he is “clearly veering” without “steering” and is being “pushed around all over the place”.

The Scottish National Party spokesperson said Cleverly’s pronouncement will be judged on whether it’s “pandering to the right wing of his party”.

The chair of the Independent Care Group warned: “I think we are going to find more businesses fail, care homes closing.”

It appears post-study work (PSW) visas available after finishing a masters degree in the UK will not as yet come under the new guidelines. This will come as a relief to Indian students, who numbered 120,000 in 2021-22.

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Diaspora India News

MEA Initiates Law Commission Inquiry into NRI Marriages

According to the MEA, it has received a large number of complaints pertaining to marital issues from Indian women married to overseas Indians…reports Asian Lite News

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sought the Law Commission of India to examine the issue of Non-Resident of India (NRI) marriages and strengthen its framework in regard to international public law and also private laws.

According to the sources, the MEA has recently sent references in this regard to the Law Commission to examine the lacunae in present concerned laws which lead to problems like abandoning partners especially brides in NRI marriages.

The Law Commission is at the initial stage and is examining a structural framework to deal with the issue, according to sources.
As per the Law Commission, it will also look at international public law and private laws. What is required is to ensure that the prevention of lacunas that are benefiting the violators should be properly addressed. Also how the various procedural requirements of the court can be done.
The Commission would also be looking into the 2019 bill on the registration of marriages of NRI and the Foreign Marriage Act.

According to the MEA, it has received a large number of complaints pertaining to marital issues from Indian women married to overseas Indians. Such cases include abandonment of wife in India, delays in sponsoring of visa by spouse, cases of spouse stopping all communications, harassment of women by husband and in-laws, ex-parte divorce by spouse etc. These cases often also include issues related to child custody.

According to the Ministry and the Missions/Posts provide appropriate counselling, guidance and information to the aggrieved Indian women about legal procedures & mechanisms in such cases. The Indian Missions and Posts also conduct walk-in sessions and open house meetings for the distressed Indians including women to address their grievances. Grievances are also addressed through MADAD and CPGRAM portals.

Further, Missions and Posts also maintain a 24×7 Helpline for emergency situations and assistance is also provided through social media platforms. Financial and legal assistance is provided under the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) to distressed NRI women, wherever applicable, said MEA. (ANI)

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Asia News Diaspora World News

SPECIAL: Recall the Kashmir massacres of 22 October 1947

The Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta held an international seminar on the theme ‘Remembering Kashmir Carnage of October 1947’ at the Kasman Singodimedjo Hall. On October 22, 1947, Kashmir witnessed a horrific turning point when the Pashtun tribal militia, accompanied by the Pakistan Army, launched “Operation Gulmarg” to occupy a large portion of Jammu and Kashmir. A special report

October 22, 2023, marks the 77th anniversary of the tribal (lashkar) invasion of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. On 22 October 1947, Pakistan-backed and aided tribal lashkars invaded the J&K princely state headed by Maharaja Hari Singh. The invasion prompted Sir Hari Singh to accede to India.

The Pakistani plan was that they would launch Operation Gulmarg to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. The rape, pillage and looting carried out by the invaders remain etched in the memories of the people of the state and even today those who witnessed and experienced that situation, recall the horrors. While the conduct of a seminar in Kashmir is important and significant, equally notable is the hosting of an international seminar by an Indonesian University on the theme “Remembering the Kashmir Carnage of October 1947”.

The need to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the context of Pakistan’s perfidy in 1947 is a necessary requirement to ensure that future generations do not forget the horrific events of that era. The Jakarta seminar was held at Kasman Singodimedjo Hall at the Muhammadiyah University of Jakarta.

On 22 October 1947, Jammu & Kashmir witnessed a horrific event when the Pashtun tribal militia, accompanied by the Pakistan Army, launched “Operation Gulmarg” to occupy J&K.

Djoni Gunanto, Deputy Dean 2, while officially opening the international seminar, said the students of the Political Science Study Program, especially those concentrating on International Relations, need to know and understand global phenomena like those that happened in Kashmir.

A speaker at the seminar said that more than 35,000 people had died in the Gulmarg operation. During this period, not only murders occurred people (mostly women) were taken hostage, who were later sold in Pakistan. The terrorists not only massacred Hindus and Sikhs but also killed those Kashmiri Muslims who refused to join Pakistan. Pakistanis call such Muslims traitors.

Normal life in Srinagar on the 4th anniversary of the Abrogation of Article 370 & 35A – Umar Ganie

Similarly, a well-known and dynamic NGO named Jammu and Kashmir Voice for Peace and Justice organized a one-day seminar at the Sher Kashmir Convocation Center in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The NGO observed a ‘black day’ on 22 October at Srinagar to mark the 77th anniversary of the tribal invasion of the Kashmir Valley by Pakistan army-backed Tribal on 22 October 1947. It was this tribal raid that led to the first India-Pakistan war in 1947-48.

Pakistan lost the war against Jammu and Kashmir because it did not want the Muslim-majority state to become part of India while the people of the princely state wanted accession to a secular India. Pakistan also wanted to disrupt secular harmony so that the two-nation theory became successful.

Pakistani Army prepared for “Operation Gulmarg” which was accidentally revealed to an Indian Army officer, Major O. S. Kalkat then serving with the Bannu Brigade.

According to the plan, 20 lashkars (tribal militias), each consisting of 1,000 Pashtun tribesmen, were to be recruited from among various Pashtun tribes, and armed at the Brigade Headquarters at Bannu, Wanna, Peshawar, Kohat, Thall and Nowshera by the first week of September 1947. They were expected to reach the launching points of Abbottabad on 18 October and cross into Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October. Ten lashkars were expected to attack the Kashmir Valley through Muzaffarabad and another ten lashkars were expected to join the rebels in Poonch, Bhimber and Rawalakot with a view to advance to Jammu.

Maj Gen Akbar Khan’s book ‘Raiders in Kashmir’ leaves no doubt about how Pakistan planned and was directly involved in the tribal invasion. Akbar Khan attended a meeting chaired by Prime Minister former Liaquat Ali. Others who attended were Finance Minister Ghulam Mohd., Mian Iftikharuddin, a Muslim League leader, Zaman Kiani, Khurshid Anwar, and Shaukat Hayat. According to his book, several army and air force officers as well the Commissioner Rawalpindi were involved. Once the raiders entered Kashmir, their first stop was Muzaffarabad. After wreaking havoc in Muzaffarabad, the Pashtuns marched towards Baramulla, even though the road to Srinagar was clear. Here the Pashtuns killed innumerable men and women, looted houses and then set them on fire. Out of the 14,000 population, less than two thousand remained. Most of the populace was either killed or fled to safer places.

The invading tribal groups had no regard for anyone. They ran riot, leaving chaos, destruction and killings in their wake. They even raped nuns, who were performing their duties at St. Joseph Hospital and schools in Baramulla. Even doctors, paramedics, and nurses tending to the sick and incapacitated were not spared. They were, too, subjected to a brutal assault by the invading tribesmen.

Amongst the participants at the seminar in Srinagar was Farooq Ganderbali, President of Voice for Peace and Justice who said, “On 22 October 1947, Pakistanis sent Invaders to Jammu and Kashmir. They looted the dignity of our mothers and sisters and took away everything. People were killed. My non-Muslim brothers were killed.

Today the youth of Kashmir have come here. Today we all are together celebrating Black Day on 22 October. Its’ purpose is that we want to tell the world that Pakistan has always shed blood in Kashmir for its own purposes.”

Veeramalla Anjaiah said that Jammu and Kashmir is being rebuilt. Humanitarian assistance, crisis management, social infrastructure, development projects and economic infrastructure are being developed. The international community needs to hold Pakistan responsible for what happened in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947.

Farooq Ganderbali further said “Today the scenario has changed. Today anyone can come to visit Kashmir. People are also going to the cinema here. The youth do not have to go to other cities, they study here. All health care facilities are here.” Minhaj, a participant at the event “This is our neighbouring country which has always been making us fight in the name of religion. The effects of that attack can be seen in Kashmir till today. This is an infamous stain on the history of Kashmir. That is why we are calling it Black Day. We try to tell the coming generations what happened at that time.”

Among the dignitaries who attended the seminar were Veeramalla Anjaiah, journalist, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Sanjay Kulkarni, former Director General of Infantry, Indian Army, Utpal Kaul, International Coordinator of the Global Kashmir Pandit Diaspora (GKPD), New Delhi, Ashwani Kumar Chrangoo, writer and activist from Jammu and Kashmir, Lia Nathalia, journalist, Ali Noer Zaman, MA. Political Science lecturer at FISIP UMJ, and Debbie Affianty, M.Sc. Director of LIGS.

The tales of horror recalled from the dark days of October 1947 are a grim reminder that Pakistan continues to sponsor terrorism in J&K. India has marched ahead in J&K, while Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir has remained neglected. The people of Gilgit Baltistan are tired of the perfidy of Pakistan and want to reunite with India. Illegal occupation by Pakistan must be vacated. That is the historical and current demand.

A timeline of the tribal invasion

3 June 1947: The June Plan, also called the Mountbatten Plan, is approved in a meeting. It culminated in the Independence of India Act of 1947 which partitioned British India into independent states of India and Pakistan. The Act received royal assent in July.

15 June: Agitation in the form of a No-Tax campaign starts in Poonch, an internal principality of Kashmir state.

15 August: Killings are reported from Bagh in Poonch principality when pro-Pakistan groups try to hoist a Pakistani flag to mark independence and clash with the state police.

12 September: Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan holds a meeting with military and civilian officials where a go-ahead is reportedly given to two plans: raise a tribal force to attack Kashmir from the north and arm the rebels in Poonch.

4 October: Rebels clash with state forces at a place called Thorar, and go on to besiege state forces in Poonch.

22 October: Tribal bands attack Muzaffarabad, then move eastwards to capture Baramulla. Some of the fighters reach the outskirts of Srinagar.

24 October: Sardar Ibrahim, a pro-Pakistan landlord from Poonch principality, announces the founding of the government of Azad (free) Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) at a place called Palandri, and appoints himself as its head.

The Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta held an international seminar on the theme ‘Remembering Kashmir Carnage of October 1947’
Diaspora Kerala USA

Kerala diaspora Members to be Honoured in New York

The 31st annual awards banquet by the Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center is set for October 28 in Elmont….reports Asian Lite News

Eight Indian-Americans will be honoured at an award ceremony in New York this month for achievements in their respective fields and for their service to the society.

The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center will present its 31st annual awards banquet on October 28 in Elmont, which will be attended by prominent leaders from India, US as well as members of the diaspora community.

“The Kerala Center has been honouring outstanding achievers since 1992. Every year we invite nominations and the committee has to make a unanimous choice for a candidate in a category to receive the award and this year is no different from previous years in terms of their achievements,” said Thomas Abraham, Kerala Center’s Trustee Board Chairman and Award Committee Member.

Shyam Kottilil, a virologist and immunologist, will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for making pivotal contributions in the field of Hepatitis and HIV.

He is currently the Interim Director of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore.

Canada-based Sajeeb Koya, the man behind the LED facade lighting that lights up world’s tallest Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, will be honoured with the Entrepreneurship Award. He hails from Thiruvananthapuram.

Lata Menon practised as a lawyer in Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka before she immigrated to Canada. In addition to her professional activities as a lawyer, Lata is an active supporter and champion of women’s equality and rights.

“Lata has touched the lives of several of her clients who came to her in distress when faced with family discord, domestic violence, abuse, and family disputes, which she has influenced many of her clients to pull their lives together and persevere in the face of adversity,” a Kerala Cultural and Civic Center release noted.

“Lata’s achievements and success makes her a true leader, mentor, formidable force, influence, and inspiration to many.”

Dr Anna George, President of the Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY), and Shelby Kutty will be recognised for their contributions in the field of healthcare, while Gopala Pillai will be honoured for community service.

Pillai has been with the World Malayali Council since 1995 as its secretary, president and chairman.

Jayant Kamicheril, a 2022 Sahithya Akademy award recipient, and Ajay Ghosh, Chief Editor and Co-Publisher of The Universal News Network, will also be recognised for contributions in the field of literature and media.

Kerala Center President Alex K. Esthappan said that the Center has recognised over 170 Americans hailing from Kerala in the last 31 years. The award ceremony will be followed by cultural and entertainment programmes.

Though the exact number of Keralites in the US is unknown, Thiruvananthapuram-based International Institute of Migration and Development (IIMD) reckons that there are at least 40 lakh from the community abroad, of which at least 20 per cent or even higher number are now settled in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Kerala is officially preparing a data bank of Keralites, a move that will help the state find the number of Malayalis working abroad, especially in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

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Arab News Diaspora Dubai

HitllTop Goa Music Festival in Dubai on Sept 9

Globally renowned DJs Ace Ventura , Imagine Mars & Starling to headline the Legendary Hilltop Night Music festival by Blisstronic @ ‘Barasti Beach Dubai

Dubai, brace yourselves for a marvellous spectacle straight from the heartland of Psytrance.

Globally renowned for our legendary PsyTrance events, HillTop Goa in collaboration with Blisstronic; have formulated our first-ever party for Dubai, promising to be the biggest event the city has ever seen and we are way excited to bring you the vibe and tribe!

The stage is set, the beats are ready to drop, and the sands of Dubai are about to come alive with the electrifying rhythms of the legendary HillTop Goa Music Festival. Where internationally renowned DJs will take over the sparkling blue Arabian Sea and Dubai’s towering skyscrapers with a music frequency for a 9-hour event like never before.

Blisstronic promises this to be the biggest event the city has ever seen. The people are about to experience a transformative musical journey as HillTop Goa Music Festival brings its unique blend of culture, music, and essence to this global metropolis on the grounds of a vibrant bar atmosphere and delicious cuisine @Barasti Beach Bar.

Situated on the coast, Barasti offers a spectacular view drawing in large numbers of energetic partygoers to get the dance floor pumping. This award-winning bar is on a high note in Dubai’s social scene.

It’ll be a night of celebrating music as a universal language that’ll in turn transcend the boundaries and connect souls. The event aims to showcase a diverse lineup of PsyTrance DJs.

From Goa Vibes to Dubai Lands, attendees can expect an auditory journey like no other.

Founders of Blisstronic & HillTop Goa Music Festival, stated, “Our vision for the Dubai edition of HillTop Night is to create an unforgettable festival experience that bridges diverse cultures through music as it transcendence in the desert and would represent our commitment to fostering unity and growth in the global PsyTrance/electronic music community.”

*Tickets and Information:*

HillTop NIght Legendary Goa Music Festival in Iconic Dubai : For more information about the festival, lineup updates, and ticket
details, please visit or follow us on:

-Top News Diaspora UK News

Gutsy British Indian women find their niche

She adds that a major achievement for IIW has been organising the She Inspires Awards in the British parliament to recognise the work of women…reports Asian Lite News

As the Indian diaspora witnesses monumental changes in its profile and confidence across the world, Indian women stepping out of the country too reflect that change. The new generation of women settling in the UK come equipped with education and attitudinal understanding which makes them stand apart from the ones who migrated a generation earlier.

Despite the progress, Indian women in the diaspora still have to surmount challenges in a foreign land, some of which can be formidable.

Rashmi Mishra of Inspiring Indian Women (IIW), an entity that she set up in 2016 in London to support women in the diaspora who faced assorted challenges – right from domestic abuse and hostile in-laws to lack of work opportunities and a non-existent social circle in an alien land.

Mishra says that one of her motivations to start IIW was to support well-qualified women who arrived on dependent visas and were looking for suitable work. “It was very frustrating for me as I had to get into ‘supply teacher work’ – where I would get teaching assignments only if a regular teacher went on leave. My long-term experience of teaching in India was not counted. Because of my experiences as an expat, I could understand the emotions of educated women who were engineers and IT professionals but could not find jobs in London”.

She began to connect women from the diaspora so that they leave behind the drudgery of their homes, find the right opportunities and do better in their personal and professional lives. Many women were able to hold exhibitions while others were happy to meet others women and share experiences.

Mishra also realised that she could not just stop at creating networking opportunities as diaspora women were facing other challenges like domestic abuse. “Lots of cases come up in London, therefore, we set up an online group called Sister Support where women ask and provide answers from their experiences related to domestic violence”.

Narrating an incident, she mentions how a woman who was “beaten up black and blue” by her husband bit him in self-defence. “The mother-in-law called up the police and the woman had to spend a night in jail for the assault. I took guarantee for her and got her out of jail but then she had nowhere to go. She did not want to go back to India to face her family and society”.

Mishra says she gets immense support from local authorities. “The Indian High Commission is very helpful. In this woman’s case, the high commission provided hotel accommodation for 10 days. Similarly, social systems here and the British authorities are supportive. The local council helped her and we got help from care workers”, she adds. Even as the legal case carries on, the woman is out of the toxic relationship and settled down in the UK.

Despite occasional hostile incidents at home, the diaspora is witnessing far-reaching changes. Mishra says dowry is going down among the Indians settled in the UK. “Now it has become an embarrassment to ask for it”.

IIW was registered as a company house entity as opposed to organisations existing only as WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Mishra says she has been filing accounts for the last eight years which has made the organisation transparent and accountable. “We do not take any money for personal gain. Our donations go entirely into activities. We have extended our work to underprivileged girls in Santa Cruz in Mumbai”, Mishra says.

She adds that a major achievement for IIW has been organising the She Inspires Awards in the British parliament to recognise the work of women.

“Member of Parliament, Bob Blackman hosts the awards under numerous categories. We honour mothers who have sacrificed their careers for their families and children. We felicitated a 75-year-old woman who was winding up her business. She had opened up the first ayurvedic store in the UK decades back. It was a great moment for her as well as her family”.

Now, IIW has extended the awards to include women in India, like Meenakshi Walke who promote unusual vocations like teaching bamboo art.

An active IIW member, Vini Kalia says that because of IIW Indian women have established newer networks and are in fact expanding those across the UK, adding that she also discovered newer skills and confidence within. Often, she finds herself holding meetings with officials as well as arranging logistics for IIW events.

On the other extreme, Sudha Rawat also corroborates that IIW helped her express her creativity. “I am interested in graphic designing and playing with photos and videos. It was through IIW that I got a platform to express my video-making skills”. Besides making videos, Rawat now spends her time organising events and getting other women into the fold.

Her husband, Ravi Rawat says that diaspora women are becoming achievers and getting recognition their families had not thought possible earlier. Adding a touch of humour he adds: “Now many of us feel jealous that the women are organising events at the parliament or the holding meetings at the Indian High Commission – something which even we had not done”.

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Arab News Diaspora World News

Skilled migrants in the UAE on high demand in the UK, Canada, Australia

Cashing in on the trend, many offline and online agencies based in COOs and having branches in the UAE are luring potential job seekers with fake job postings and then charging them exorbitant fees for visa processing and other services… writes Rejimon Kuttappan

 Jancy Janet, a 35-year-old government hospital nurse in one of the Emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is all set to fly to the United Kingdom (UK). In a week, in mid-August, she will be flying out from UAE with her two young boys and her husband.

She has secured a job in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The recruitment was done by the NHS team who visited the UAE recently to hold walk-in interviews.

Her husband, Saji Chacko, an Indian automobile mechanic in the same Emirate, has resigned from the job and is helping Jancy in readying the family for travel.

Talking over the phone from the Emirate, Saji said, the UAE experience is valued globally and that has helped his wife secure a job in the UK.

Jancy is a skilled third-generation Indian migrant in the UAE. She has benefited from gaining global hands-on work experience in the UAE as a nurse.

Her monthly salary offered in the NHS is approximately 3000 USD, which is not that high when compared to the Emirate salary. But the other benefits have lured her to take up the offer.

When asked whether the UAE experience had helped his wife to get a job in NHS, he said yes, and continued that norms to migrate to developed countries from UAE are preferred.

Since the 1960s, Indians have been migrating to the UAE as migrant workers, much before the UAE itself was formed.

Manikantan, a worker from the south Indian state of Kerala, who migrated to the UAE in 1960 says that his life was secured only after migrating to the UAE, even though he had to travel on a dhow heading to Iran.

In those days, thousands of Indians used such dhows to return to Iran from Bombay, India, via Dubai.

“I was part of a labour team that built Dubai Creek in 1961. I stayed in Dubai for 25 years, grew with the city, and returned home with the savings I made,” Manikantan said. “In those days, the UAE never turned away migrant workers who landed on its shores with great hope, even if they didn’t have travel documents.”

In those days, the UAE never turned away migrant workers who landed on its shores with great hope, even if they didn’t have travel documents.

Manikantan added, “Before the 1960s, Indians, especially Keralites, used to migrate to Southeast Asian countries. But after oil was discovered and the rulers decided to build cities and countries in the Gulf, we moved there. We started the Gulf rush, and it’s still there. The third and fourth generations who are migrating or growing up there are making a good and safe future for themselves.”

Manikantan’s children and grandchildren are now living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as skilled migrants.

A July 2022 government of India document placed in the parliament reveals that there are 35,00,000 Indians working and residing in the UAE on different kinds of visas. This is 3.5 million is 30 per cent of the total UAE population.

While there are Indian construction workers on short-term visas, there are also Indian investors and businessmen who hold a Golden Visa, a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 5 or 10 years.

While migrants like Manikantan, built Dubai Creek and secured their families with decent savings, many Indian migrant businessmen, holding Golden Visas, are running a successful businesses from oil trade to hypermarkets in the UAE and challenging global players.

MA Yusuff Ali, the retail king from India who presides over $8 billion revenue from LuLu Group International, made his fortune in the UAE. He had migrated to UAE in 1973 to join his uncle’s small distribution business, which now is the largest retail group in the world with shopping malls in the Gulf and elsewhere.

Another successful businessman who made a fortune in Dubai is Joy Alukkas, the jewellery man. He opened his first shop in Dubai is 1985. He faced a few hiccups in the early days, but now is worth $3.1 billion and has gold outlets all over the world.

According to official data, as a government, India is UAE’s second-largest trading partner accounting for 9% of its total foreign trade and 14% of non-oil exports. Also, the UAE is India’s third biggest trade partner. India-UAE trade increased from US$ 180 million per year in the 1970s to US$ 72.8 billion in FY21. It is expected that the value of UAE’s non-oil trade with India will increase from the current US$ 60 billion to over US$ 100 billion over the next five years. India and UAE are projected to surpass bilateral trade worth US$ 88 billion this year (2023).

UAE is the 7th largest investor in India with cumulative FDI inflows of US$ 15,179 million from April 2000 – September 2022.

Bilateral trade between India and the UAE stood at US$ 43.3 billion in FY2020-21. India exported goods worth US$ 16.7 billion to the Gulf state, while imports aggregated at US$ 26.7 billion during the fiscal.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds talks with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group’s chairman M.A. Yusuffali during Indian leader’s visit to Abu Dhabi in July.

As Indians are the largest expatriate community in the UAE, their remittances are a significant source of foreign earnings for India.

India received $90bn in remittances in 2022, with UAE as second-biggest source. The total remittance flows during the 2021-22 fiscal year were the highest received by India in a single year, data from India’s Ministry of Finance showed. India’s fiscal year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31.

The US, the world’s largest economy, was the biggest source of remittances to India, with a 23.4 per cent share in total remittance flows, followed by the UAE at 18 per cent. The UK was in third place with a 6.8 per cent share and Singapore was fourth with a 5.7 per cent share.

Moreover, the highest share of 5 major countries in inward remittances to India through Authorised Dealer (ADs) banks are from the United States (23.4%), followed by the United Arab Emirates (18%), United Kingdom (6.8%), Singapore (5.7%) and Saudi Arabia (5.1%).

Like neighbours, in 2022, the UAE had also updated its 1980 labour law, with more labour-friendly provisions to attract more migrants and boost economic growth.

According to news reports, the new law offers employers and employees various options for their contractual relations. Among other reforms, the law set out multiple work models, including full-time and part-time jobs; temporary work and flexible hours.

Additionally, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre) started issuing 12 types of work permits, including those for students, Golden Visa holders, and freelancers. New types of leaves like those for bereavement and studies were implemented as well.

2022 witnessed an 11 per cent growth in the total number of private sector establishments, compared to 2021. More than 2.1 million work permits were issued last year — a whopping 38 per cent growth compared to the previous year’s 1.5 million.

All the numbers prove that UAE is reforming, and growing and migrants still see the most sought work destination in the Gulf.

According to a UN document, in April 2022, the UAE Cabinet approved significant changes to strengthen the laws on entry and residence requirements and expand regular pathways to foreign citizens. They allow Golden Visa holders to sponsor children regardless of age.

Additionally, restrictions on the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE in order to maintain the validity of the visa have been removed and family members resident under the visa are granted rights to remain in the UAE in the event of the primary visa holder’s death, until the expiry of the permit.

The UAE Golden Visa is made available for scientists and researchers holding a PhD or master’s degree (from world-leading universities) in a broader range of categories. The government is expanding Golden Visa availability to highly skilled workers in professional categories, including medicine, sciences, engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.

Additionally, the reforms to the 5-year residency visa, to include a flexible grace period of up to six months stay in the UAE after the permit is cancelled or expired, in addition to facilitating and simplifying the requirements for all residency will be helpful for migrants.

The introduction of a 5-year residency visa for skilled employees, without the requirement for a sponsor or employer, for applicants holding a valid employment contract, as well as a bachelor’s degree and minimum salary level, is also in place.

And, the introduction of a 5-year residency visa for freelancers and self-employed individuals, enabling self-sponsorship is also being activated.

Additionally, improvements to the visa-issuance system, offering flexible duration of stay, and making available both single and multiple entry visas that can renewed are also implemented.

However, recently, migrating to the UK, Canada, and Australia has become a new trend for migrants, especially Indians, who are working in the UAE. Jancy is one of them.

Many are weighing the options of migrating to the UK, Canada, Australia, or staying back in the UAE.

HH Sheikh Nahyan Unveils Bust of Gandhi in Dubai

Biji Eapen, a gold businessman in the UAE, said that seven of his friends, all skilled migrants, have migrated to the UK, Canada, and Australia, in the last three months.

“The skills acquired in the UAE are helping many to get jobs easily. In Dubai, the number of recruitment agencies is increasing. And companies in developed countries are also coming here with walk-in interviews,” Biji added.

However, Biji decided to stay back in the UAE.

“The travel time to my home town in the South Indian state of Kerala is just 3.5 hours. As I am running my own business, I can travel anytime I want and it’s not a hassle,” Biji added.

Sujit Joseph, an IT engineer in Abu Dhabi who got an offer from a Canadian company, said that he hasn’t made a decision yet.

“The UAE feels like home for me. The pay offered is less than in Canada. My office is in the heart of the city. I studied and grew up here. I don’t want to leave the UAE,” Sujith said.

Meanwhile, Shine Jose, an engineer now in Australia, said that his work experience in the UAE helped him to get a job in Australia. Shine was a male nurse in the UAE for seven years.

“The work experience gives leverage as points while processing the migration papers. Those who worked in the UAE get a favourable response,” Shine said. Shine has taken his wife and son to Australia.

According to Manoj P (name changed), who runs a recruitment agency in Dubai, said that UK, Canadian, and Australian counterparts are frequently sending inquiries and visiting the UAE for talent hunting.

“They have realized that if they can take in skilled migrants from the UAE, then they can benefit. Everybody needs skilled migrant workers. They need experienced workers. And they know that the UAE is a country which provides world-class training for skilled migrants and hands-on experience. So, the UAE is turning into a talent hunting ground for recruiters,” Manoj added.

Meanwhile, a human resource manager in one of the oil companies in UAE said that even from government companies, skilled migrants are resigning and migrating to the UK, Canada, and Australia.

“At least a dozen technicians have migrated to Australia and Canada during the last three months. All had gained experience here, which has helped them to get the job smoothly. The work experience you get here in UAE is global, so it is valued everywhere,” the manager said on condition of anonymity.

Cashing in on the trend, many offline and online agencies based in the UAE and COOs are luring potential job seekers with fake job postings and then charging them exorbitant fees for visa processing and other services. These agencies often target vulnerable job seekers who are desperate for work, and they use deceptive practices to trick them into handing over their money.

Christin Joseph, an Indian based in the UAE, lost the money he paid to one of the fraudulent agencies in the UAE to get a job for his wife in the UK. His wife is an experienced nurse who has worked in the UAE for the past eight years.

Christin found the agency’s address online and trusted them. However, he later realized that he had been cheated. When he contacted the agency, they returned $1,000. The rest of the money, he had to give up.

Christin added that there is even a Facebook page created to cross-check the legitimacy of agencies. The page, “Fraud Immigration Consultant UAE,” has 17.3K members. Scrolling down the page, you can see potential job seekers’ queries and doubts. There are even posts detailing the names of fake agencies. Christin’s is not an isolated case.

Akhila Udaykumar, a nurse, and her friends were cheated by a fraudulent online agency that had a physical office in the UAE. Akhila had approached the agency to migrate to Canada. She was told that she had to pay money in advance to start the process and that she should come to Dubai so that she could fly out from there.

Akhila’s friends flew to Dubai, but Akhila didn’t. Unfortunately, she and her friends were duped. The two friends who went to the UAE got stuck there. Akhila had paid USD 1,200 as an advance. Finally, a month ago, one year after waiting for the “processing,” she filed a police case in India. One of the partners was from the south Indian state of Kerala. Akhila traced his house and filed the case. As she filed the case, she got back USD 500.

“The partner is in Dubai. However, I have filed the case. And I will get the rest of the money too,” Akhila added.

Approximately, 5000 USD is the fee agencies demand in the UAE to facilitate the migration to the UK, Canada and Australia, the most sought destinations by skilled migrants.

Veena K, an Indian banker in UAE, said that if the government expands its social security packages, insurance schemes, and affordable housing options, regardless of the visa category, then migrants will stay back.

“Wages Protection System and the Taa-meen insurance system are there. But some don’t help on the ground. The UAE should make the labour-friendly reforms workable on the ground to retain the talent here,” Veena added.

With Permanent Resident status in the UK, migrants will have access to healthcare, pensions, and other social benefits that the UK is famous for. If the migrant worker has a family looking to join him or her, being a PR means that the family can make their journeys over to the UK. Finally, the migrant worker’s permanent resident status will also benefit his or her child’s British citizenship application.

Suju K Daniel, a long-time Indian resident in the UK, said, “Many Indians migrate to the UK to protect their children’s future. Social security packages are helpful. The earnings won’t be that high. But you get settled here, and your children get more opportunities,” he added.  

According to the March 2023 UK Immigration Statistics, the government had issued work visas (including dependants), up 211,285 (+76 per cent) to 487,771 and study visas (including dependants), up 161,771 (+34 per cent) to 632,006, including sponsored and short-term students.

The official statistics also add that there were 299,891 grants to main applicants on work visas, 61 per cent higher than in the year ending March 2022, largely due to increases in the ‘Skilled Worker’ visas.

The official statistics confirm that Indian nationals were the highest nationality granted on both these routes.

Like in the UK, skilled migrants who migrate to Australia and Canada also get social security packages, better education facilities for their children, and can buy property.  

According to a news report, in 2022, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants into the country, reflecting Canada’s high immigration targets.

Meanwhile, Australian government note says, in the year ending 30 June 2022, overseas migration contributed a net gain of 171,000 to Australia’s population. This represents a very large increase in net overseas migration on the 2020-21 financial year – which saw a net loss of 85,000 people.

In short, the UK, Canada and Australia have kept their doors open to fill the skilled worker shortage in their countries.

While some like Sujith are doubtful about leaving the UAE, people like Biji prefer to continue in the UAE, despite agencies from the UK, Canada and Australia frequently visiting the UAE looking for talented migrants. Recruiters and skilled migrants in the UAE confirm the demand to recruit skilled migrants from the UAE is visible now.

(Rejimon Kuttappan is an independent journalist, ILO / Reuters / NFI fellow on labour migration and author of Undocumented-Penguin 2021)

Diaspora UAE News World News

EVENT: Dubai Celebrates Mother’s Birthday & Intl. Awards

In a grand celebration at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, the 113th birthday of Saint Mother Teresa was commemorated with great pomp and splendour. This event served as a tribute to distinguished individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to humanitarian causes and outstanding professional achievements

Mother Teresa’s 113th birthday was celebrated in style at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai.  Saint Teresa was born on 26 August 1910 and the founder of the Missionaries of Charity which grew to have over 4,500 nuns across 133 countries as of 2012. She worked with the poorest of the poor and received several honours, including the Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize.

The event also served as a tribute to distinguished individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to humanitarian causes and outstanding professional achievements. This is the first time the award show has travelled overseas to Dubai and a few UAE residents were conferred these awards. 

The 2023 Mother Teresa International Award

Dubai’s own business tycoon and cricket patron, Mr Shyam Bhatia, Patron of the award show addressed the press conference with four other panellists that included Dr. T.H. Ireland, Principal, St. James’ School, Kolkata and chairman of the committee. Dr Ireland has had a close association with Mother Teresa and spoke of her compassion and her mission to work with the poorest of the poor. The panel included singing legend Usha Uthup with a career artiste known for her career that has lasted over 4 decades has a close associate of Mother Teresa.  She would often visit her and talk to her through her god and bad times and was present at her demise as well as her canonization.

The 2023 Mother Teresa International Awardees include Sheikh Ahmed Bin Faisal Al Qassimi (Culture & Administration – UAE); Mr. Ahamad Al Falasi (Social Work – Dubai); Ms. Usha Uthup (Entertainment – India); Mr. Sacha Jafri (Culture – United Kingdom); Md. Mohibbur Rahman (Politics – Bangladesh); Mohd. Noor Ali (Industrialist & Social Work – Bangladesh); Mr. Satya Prakash Sangwan (Sports – India); Mr. Rajib Sabrawal (Entertainment & Sports – Dubai); Dr. Asif Ali Siddiqui (Healthcare – Dubai); Mr. Pawan Kumar Patodia (Sports – India); Mr. Rupak Saha (Social Work – India); Prof. Girja Shanker (Education – India); Mr. Alhaj Mohammed Solaiman Alam Seth (Social Work – Bangladesh); Ms. Rajnandini Paul (Entertainment – India); Mr. Kamal Gurung (Social Work – Nepal); Mr. Subhajit Rakshit (Entertainment – Dubai); Mr. Omprakash Jhajharia (Social Work – India) and Engr. A.K.M Fazlullah (Social Work – Bangladesh).

The event was well attended by several eminent personalities of Dubai and was regaled by the dance performances of mother-daughter actor/artiste duo Indrani Dutta and Rajnandini Paul. Onstage at the event, Ushah Uthup and Dubai-based Bollywood actor Kalpana Iyer ( whose most popular songs have been sung by Usha Uthup), created a beautiful memory of singing and dancing at their songs together.

The 2023 Mother Teresa International Award

The Mother Teresa International Awards committee expressed their gratitude for the support extended by Mr. Rajeev Sabharwal, Mr. Sangwan, and Mr. Tapan Roy, who serves as the International Convenor of the Mother Teresa Awards Committee and holds positions as Director of ATN Bangla and ATN Medicare. They also acknowledged the contributions of Mr. Lalit Sharma, Director of Operations at Real Impact, Manish Pawar from Prime Vision, Conrad Hotel, AR Pro Events, and Innara

International Awards

It all started with the All India Minority and Weaker Sections Council, a non-political organization established by the late Prafulla Chandra Sen, former chief minister of West Bengal and Mr, Anthony Arun Biswas along with many other dignitaries. The council has been working for the welfare of the weaker sections of the community.  After the death of Saint Teresa in 1997, the council formed the Mother Teresa International and Millennium Award Committee and gave them the responsibility to recognise and give away awards every year to eminent personalities who have excelled in the fields of Education, Science, Culture, Sports, Social Work, Medicine, Industry and Politics in the country.

The award’s chief patron is the former governor of West Bengal and Former Chief Justice of Calcutta, Justice Shyamal Sen. The award show which dates back 22 years has been conferred on illustrious names such as Dr Manmohan Singh, the former PM of India, Ms Sheikh Hasina- Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Musician and singer, Late Shri Manna Dey , Mr Ajit Wadekar , Coach & Former Captain of Indian National Cricket team, actor Prem Chopra, actor Rajesh Khanna, actor and politician Ms Hema Malini, Late Sri Girija Prasad Koirala – Ex- Prime Minister of Nepal, Late Sri Priya Ranjan Das Munshi – Former MP & Minister (Information & Broadcasting), Govt of India. Sri Oscar Fernandes – Former Minister, Govt. of India, Sri Ram Jethmalani , Ms Rani Mukherjee, Late Tapan Sinha, Singer and artiste Anup Jalota, musician and composer Sri Bhupen Hazarika, Ms Sabitri Chatterjee, Ms Anuradha Paudwal ,Ms Indrani Haider, actor Govinda , Ms Satabdi Roy, Late Fr. Peter Arulraj, the late Henry D’Souza – EX Archbishop of Kolkata,  Mr Shyam Bhatia – Founder of Alam Steel, Dubai 31, the late Mr Jagmahan Dalmiya – President, BCCI & CAB, Bangladeshi ministers, Mr Dipu Mani and Mr Gazi Golam Dastogir ,Mr. Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman Bashundhara Group, Bangladesh, Dr. H.B.M Iqbal (Ex MP)Chairman of Premier Bank Limited, Bangladesh, Sufi Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Chairman of PHP Group, Bangladesh, Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman Chairman of ATN Bangla & ATN News.

Rajiv Sabharwal, winner of 2023 Mother Teresa International Award for Entertainment & Sports

2023 Awardees

Philanthropist Mr Ahmad Al Falasi who is called the Hopemaker of the UAE, a title conferred to him by none other than HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Deputy PM of the UAE graced the press conference and the event. Mr Falasi works tirelessly to provide medical aid to people around the world, often bridging the gap between the privileged and the under -privileged. His work in Africa, especially in medical facilities has been commendable and he has helped set up dialysis centres in Mombasa and other African regions. He was also on the ground to assist in rescue operations at the recent earthquake in Turkey and continues to be a source of inspiration to us all.

The 2023 Mother Teresa International Award

Sacha Jafri Dubai-based world-renowned artist whose work regularly sells for between $ 5 million USD – $25million USD, with his two most expensive pieces reaching as high as $62million and $105million USD, created a poignant artwork onstage. In November of this year, alongside NASA’s 50th Anniversary since the last landing on the Moon, history is set to be made as NASA team up with Sacha Jafri, Astrobotic, Spacebit, and Jeff Bezos’s ‘Blue Origin’ on their Lunar mission to place Sacha Jafri’s latest creation as the first Artwork to officially be placed on the Lunar Surface of our Moon. This celestial piece shines an eternal light back on our Earth, inspiring a more hopeful future for the reconnection of all Humanity. Jafri’s Moon-Landed painting, entitled ‘We Rise Together with the Light of the Moon’, is set to break all records when it goes under the hammer later this year at an estimate of a record-breaking $105million USD, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold by a living artist.

Diaspora Food India News

Taste of home in the UK

As the demand for Indian cuisine continues to surge in popularity throughout the United Kingdom, certain corporates are seizing the opportunity by tapping into the increasing interest in pre-packaged curry sauces, spices, and convenient ready-to-eat meals with Indian flavours. The initial surge in this trend dates back to 2007 when Patak’s, founded by Kirit and Meena Pathak, successfully sold the brand for an undisclosed amount exceeding £100 million … writes Jinisha Bhanushali

The sight of overstuffed suitcases has become a familiar one at airports across India this time of the year. Inside these huge bulky suitcases, hidden between layers of winter wear are the tastes of home—bags of basmati rice, boxes of spice mixes, containers of ghee. For students venturing abroad for university, these Indian foods provide a sense of comfort and familiarity. As the plane takes off for their new life overseas, they will be surprised to see their home favourite brands and flavours abundantly available in the ‘World Foods’ aisles of supermarkets in the UK.

18-year-old Vidhi is soon set to leave her hometown in India to start her university course at the University of Birmingham. As she packs her suitcase in preparation for her journey to the UK, she carefully tucks in her favourite comfort foods from home.

She says: “Coming from a Gujarati family, my tongue has probably developed more tastebuds than any average person. There is always too much food and too many varieties. Now that I’m stepping out of this aromatic and mouthwatering bubble, I’ve prepared myself to adapt to the change in taste. That being said, I intend to carry a basic supply of ready-to-cook items that suffice for the first two weeks. I’m also planning to carry some dry spices like chilli, turmeric, and coriander powder, provided by Everest. As a pure vegetarian, my options are quite narrow, even while travelling. That is when these food items come to the rescue.”

Though Vidhi thinks she will have to adapt to life abroad without these spice brands or vegetarian delicacies, upon landing she will be filled with joy seeing the Indian grocery stores and restaurants on the streets of Birmingham. The once humble curry has become a British staple, with chicken tikka masala unofficially dubbed a national dish. Southern Indian fare also has a growing fanbase among tourists as well as Britain citizens.

But for older generations, locating specific Indian spices, snacks, and staples in the UK once proved a challenge, requiring trips to speciality shops or carefully packed suitcases from India.

“I carried a lot of Indian food items like masalas, Indian cooking oil, and pulses when I first visited the UK. I was not sure about the availability of these items abroad. I even carried Indian snacks like Chanachoor, but when I landed in the UK I found that these items are not just available but also easily found in the supermarkets in my neighbourhood,” shares Aritra Mukherjee, a 42-year-old journalist living in London.

He also adds: “Most of the convenience stores here sell Indian grocery; some even sell popular Indian drink brands like Frooti, Maaza, and Thumbs Up. So now when I visit home, I don’t laden my luggage with Indian food items because I get it all here in the UK.” For homesick students, the ubiquity of these familiar flavours brings comfort.

Soumik’s experience is common amongst first-time visitors and Indian students arriving in the UK. Most lug suitcases are stuffed with the tastes of home brands, unsure what will be available in this new country.

Over the last decade, Indian food has seen immense growth in popularity and availability across Britain. Strolling through the aisles of any major supermarket reveals a breadth of Indian ingredients and products. Varieties of dal sit alongside fragrant basmati rice, while displays of exotic chutneys and spices tempt people from various nationalities living in the UK.  Finding these authentic ingredients is made easy across the UK by some popular brands that brought in a range of flavours from across India.

As Indian cuisine explodes in popularity across the UK, some corporates are capitalising on the growing appetite for packaged curry sauces, spices and ready meals. The first wave was long back in 2007 when Patak’s (founded by Kirit and Meena Pathak) sold the brand for an undisclosed sum of more than £100 million.

However, in recent times a company created by private equity called Vibrant Foods has literally covered all kinds of Indian food staples and spices with a wide range of products and brands managing to place Jaggery (Gur) to Poha to spices and lentils with iconic brands acquired such as East End, TRS, FUDCO and Cofresh snacks.

66-year-old Daksha Shah first moved from India to London in 1977, she recalls that finding authentic Indian ingredients in London was a constant struggle. “Back then, the supermarket shelves were devoid of the masalas and spices I relied on for daily cooking. I would often go over my luggage limit bringing supplies of masala mixes, dals and jaggery back from visits to India.”

Four decades on, Daksha is thrilled by how accessible Indian cooking staples have become in her local shops. “Now I can easily find top quality ingredients – I buy all my masalas from Fudco as they make them just like back home in India, which was impossible to source here before, is now readily available in my local Sainsburys.”

For Daksha, one of the biggest benefits of the corporatization of Indian food in Britain has been the availability of trusted brands that consistently recreates authentic flavours thousands of miles from home. “It’s been wonderful seeing Indian cuisine become so mainstream over my lifetime in the UK,” she reflects. “What took up my entire suitcase can now fit into my shopping basket.”

Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani at Chaiwala in London

For Indian students living in Britain, the availability makes maintaining connections to food traditions much more accessible. Samrudhi Patil, 23, graduating from the University of Westminster in a few months expresses her joy of seeing Poha (rice flakes) at an Indian grocery store in Harrow. She says: “As a Maharashtrian, I had to start my days with Poha and ginger tea. This breakfast combination has been for years in any Maharashtrian family, and I was relieved when I found Poha (rice flakes) in one of the grocery stores in my neighbourhood.”

For young Indians studying abroad, Vibrant Foods’ efforts mean local Tesco or Sainsbury’s can supply ingredients to recreate family recipes. Options abound, from chickpea flour for bhajjias to thick curd for raitas. Packaged snacks like Haldiram snacks or Gujarati khakhra offer a taste of childhood to many. Such convenience was unheard of for previous expat generations.

Beyond business, this movement also signals India’s growing cultural imprint worldwide. Indian expats make up one of the largest immigrant groups in the UK. Festivals like Diwali and Holi have entered the British calendar.

The quintessentially English tradition of pairing biscuits with tea may be evolving according to some reports. Samosas are a more popular snack in the UK paired with tea nowadays. Last summer at a cricket match in London, billionaire Mukesh Ambani was spotted sipping chai (tea) at Chaiiwala, a popular chain in the city —proof of the rising global influence.

As Indian culture continues to expand its global reach, flavours once foreign have been warmly welcomed abroad. For students venturing west, a taste of home is just a quick visit to the supermarket in their neighbourhood.

-Top News Diaspora Europe

New Zealand immigration investigating employers for visa scheme breaches

Immigration Minister Andrew Little said that the country’s Public Service Commission will review the AEWV scheme’s processes following complaints…reports Asian Lite News

Following complaints of worker exploitation and breaches of the work visa scheme, the immigration authorities in New Zealand are probing more than 160 accredited employers, according to a media report.

As of August 9, five employers have had their accreditation suspended and six revoked for breaching employment standards, false declarations, liquidation and having migrants working for them without valid working rights or in breach of visa conditions, The New Zealand Herald reported.

A 27-year-old migrant worker from Punjab told The Herald on condition of anonymity that he was assaulted and left at the airport in the early hours of the morning this month after failing to pay “extortion” money to his employer.

A painter by profession, the worker paid a fee of about $20,000 for his initial visa and arrived in New Zealand last month where he stayed with his employer’s family and three other colleagues in a two-bedroom house in Auckland.

He was not paid any wages for the three weeks that he worked but was instead asked by his employer to pay another $20,000, and was also threatened with deportation.

“I begged them to have mercy, but they said if I had no more money to give then they will deport me and ban me from coming back to NZ,” the painter told The Herald.

Following this, the employer and two of his colleagues assaulted the painter in the early hours on August 9 and drove him to Auckland Airport.

According to radio service RNZ, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) general manager Richard Owen said they were aware of migrants being charged between NZ$14,000 to over $30,000 by agents, and some being dismissed before even starting work.

The painter is now being helped by a social worker and the Takanini Gurdwara Sahib Sikh temple with accommodation and food.

Dalijit Singh, president of The Supreme Sikh Society of NZ, said the Indian painter was one of about 10 exploited migrant workers that are being referred to the temple every week.

Apart from India, there are workers from countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South America, according to an RNZ report.

“This is becoming a real problem since the start of this accredited employer programme,” Daljit told The Herald.

Steve Watson, Head of Immigration Compliance and Investigation, told The Herald that the agency has received a range of allegations and complaints, including worker exploitation, overstaying or people working or employing workers illegally.

However, he added that not all complaints are specific to the AEWV category.

“As of August 6, 2023, we are currently investigating 164 accredited employers. These investigations are in a variety of stages and we can’t comment on open investigations,” Watson said.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Andrew Little said that the country’s Public Service Commission will review the AEWV scheme’s processes following complaints.

Launched in 2022, the AEWV (Accredited Employer Work Visa) program, encourages businesses in the country to hire, train, and upskill workers.

Additionally, it offers qualified employees earning at least the New Zealand median hourly salary of NZD $29.66, a road to residency.

To obtain this visa, one needs employer accreditation, an employment check, and a visa application.

As per the report, more than 77,000 Accredited Employer Work Visas have been approved since the new visa opened in July 2022, and there are approximately 27,400 accredited employers.

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