According to Wikpedia, Emigration is the act of leaving one’s native country or region to settle in another. Whereas Government of Pakistan describes Emigration as the departure by sea, air or land out of Pakistan of any person for the purpose, or with the intention, of working for hire or engaging in nay trade profession or calling in any country beyond the limits of Pakistan. And, to protect rights of such emigrants, the Emigration Ordinance, 1979 describes Protector of Emigrants as a public servant appointed by the Federal Government to authorize departure of a Pakistani going abroad on the purpose of employment, after submission of certain fees.
According to the law:
Before any person emigrates, he shall appear in person, alongwith the overseas employment promoter by whom he has been engaged or assisted or recruited for employment abroad or his duly authorized representative, before the protector of Emigrants and furnish to him such information as may be prescribed.
If you are going abroad on employment, it is necessary according to Law of Pakistan to get a stamp of Protector of Emigrants on your passport. In simple words, this means paying some booty in advance if you want to earn a decent living and live a secure life abroad.
So, if you have got a job abroad and counting your days before take off, don’t be so happy yet as Protector of Emigrants is there to test your nerves before you leave Pakistan.
In order to get your Passport “protected”, you require following attributes (from wikihow.com):
1. NICOP, National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis is the first attribute of the process. Only a Token Receipt of NICOP is enough for Passport Protection process. NICOP is a computerized card for identification of a single person visiting a particular country. This card is issued by NADRA, National Database and Registration Authority within 15 days of application submission. This is an important fact that NICOP recipt is necessary for Protectorate of Emigrants department but the orignal plastic card is not necessary to fly outside Pakistan. This means a person who does not have NICOP plastic card, can still fly outside Pakistan.
2. VISA – Work Permit: An original visa or its photocopy is required.
3. Employment Offer/Contract: The original/scanned copy of Employment Offer/Contract should also be attached along with the Application.
4. Pakistani Passport: This is also pre-requisite of NICOP.
5. Pakistani CNIC, Computerized National Identity Card: This is also pre-requisite of NICOP.
6. Medical Report (as directed by Protectorate of Emigrants).
7. Bank Challan Receipts.
8. Life Insurance.
9. An Undertaking Form.
10. An Information Form.
11. Photograph: Mostly people get the passport protected without submitting any photograph but it is recommend keeping one.
The NICOP is issued on the excuse that foreigners do not understand the Urdu ID Card (CNIC) developed by NADRA. Instead of just getting a translation of CNIC for overseas use (like a translated Driving License, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate etc.), we have to pay to get another ID Card, which may never be used either in or out of Pakistan.
To get your passport protected you have to visit three different banks to submit challans and take on a mandatory-voluntary Life Insurance policy from State Life. It is obvious that 2-3 working days will be lost in all this fiasco, considering the pace and performance of our government departments and banks.
I am not sure what good this “protection” is for? Does the Protector of Emigrants verifies foreign employer / recruitment agent and compensates the employee in case of fraud or mistreatment? It is common knowledge that laborers going to Gulf countries are hired on attracting terms but in reality, treated quite grossly by the employer. There are no reports of the Protector of Emigrants taking any action on this. What about all those poor souls who get trapped by fraudulent agents and smuggled abroad to slave camps? Hello, P of E? you there?
And what about the insurance? It is called voluntarily insurance but one has to pay insurance fees in order to get the protection stamp? What if somebody is not interested in getting insured?
If somebody is going abroad for work, he/she is bringing valued foreign exchange back to country and doing a favor to the state. Unfortunately current system of Protector of Emigrants is just to facilitate the agent culture. Instead of making the process as simplified as possible, Protector of Emigrants make sure that people get so frustrated that they either drop the idea of going abroad or pay the agent to get things done.
A senior citizen, with 22 years of experience in Immigration Department of a Gulf Country, writes:
During General Ziaul Haq a very nice group insurance scheme called Overseas Immigrants Insurance was introduced by the State Life. It was world’s best group insurance scheme ever introduced by any country for its expatriates. If my memories in this old age are not misguiding me the Philippines government perhaps once requested Pakistan to help them in introducing the same for their nationals working abroad. During 1980s and till first half of 1990s it worked fine. But later in line successive governments policies to fetch as much as possible from pockets of the public in one name or the other just to get a little money in the name of Protector of Immigrants registration this insurance scheme was destroyed. I had been one of the biggest advocator of this scheme pressing labour class Pakistanis to definitely get this insurance but since 1996-99 I have left this.
State Life used to issue this insurance policy to anyone like eg to me who came on visit visa and got employment abroad. Later similarly as the new costly ID Cards for Overseas Pakistanis on the foolish ground that that Urdu cards were not readable by foreign authorities, in order to earn more money for the Department, it was interpreted that for getting this insurance one needs to get himself registered with the Protector of Emigrants. Before coming out of Pakistan on getting an employment contract from abroad paying the Protector a hefty fee just “stamping” the foreign Contract can a little be understood, but why to pay this fees by those who got employment like me at their own and need no stamping of any contract. Pakistan Laws say no body can go abroad for employment without getting registration with Protector of Emigrant. But no Law of Pakistan forbids anywhere that if a person goes abroad on a visit to meet any family member, on a tourism or for performing Umrah and in case he gets employment during his, such an employment will be illegal haing no prior registration with the Protector. If this interpretation of the Department is taken then sons and daughters of those Pakistanis who went abroad after Protector of Emigrants registration, were born there, got education there after which they got employment abroad all become illegally gone abroad.
Protector Office in Karachi:
Address: Protector of Emigrants, Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment
14-J, Block No.6, Near KFC, Nursery, PECHS, Karachi
Tel: 092-21-4398711, 4532596, 4538090
For list of other protector offices in Pakistan, please visit BEOE website.
A very interesting article about Protector of Emigrants, here.
Image from ADOI