Immigration NRI Politics
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The Indian embassy in the United Arab Emirates will provide legal assistance to distressed workers from September 1 onwards, with the ambit of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) getting widened to provide more financial help to blue-collared employees, Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian ambassador to the UAE , said on August 24.
Under the expanded ambit of the welfare fund, the Indian missions will be able to spend up to $10,000 (Dh36,700) per case in instances related to issues such as layoffs or delay in salaries and compensation. The existing subsistence allowance of Dh40 per day for 30 days for individuals in distress will be extended up to 60 days on a means-tested basis, Suri added.
“While we are committed to do what we must do, the primary responsibility is with the employer,” Suri said. “We shouldn’t create a situation where the employer is able to walk away from his responsibilities on salaries and other contractual obligations.”
Legal assistance will also be provided to those who have committed minor offences or have been falsely implicated by their employer and imprisoned; fishermen, seamen, sailors, students in distress; and Indian women abandoned/cheated/abused by their NRI/PIO or foreign spouses (up to seven years after their marriage).
“Now we will engage four or five law firms to fight genuine cases. Previously, law firms were engaged mainly to fight blood money cases,” Dinesh Kumar, the first secretary and counsellor of community affairs at the embassy, told Gulf News.
The welfare fund also allows the missions to give emergency medical assistance of up to $5,000 (Dh18,350) to victims of major accidents, life-threatening medical conditions and serious disability, if the employer is unwilling to meet the expenses and the family is unable to meet the cost. The fund also provides one-way air ticket to stranded Indians in need, two-way air fare to a doctor or attendant to accompany the primary beneficiary in case of any disability, on recommendation of the hospital, expenditure on incidentals and for airlifting the mortal remains to India or local cremation/burial of the deceased overseas Indian in cases where a sponsor is unable or unwilling to do so as per the contract and the family is unable to meet the cost.
The fund is raised through service charges levied for various consular services, which have also been revised. Rates for visa and OCI cards now are $3, while passport and attestation of documents other than in death cases will now cost $2.
The ambassador, however, pointed out that the missions would never encourage illegal stay, according to the publication. He asked blue-collar workers to use the eMigrate system, India’s electronic emigration system that checks fraudulent practices, for recruitment.