Mumbai: Migration of Indian workers looking for employment opportunities in the Gulf saw a decline by 62 per cent as of 2018, stated a statistics from e-Migrate emigration clearance data. In 2014, the five-year outflow of Indian workers to the Gulf country stood at 7.76 lakh. Emigration clearances granted to Indian workers looking for employment opportunities in the Gulf have reduced by 21 per cent, as of November 30, 2018. The figures were recorded to be 2.95 lakh Indian workers in a span of 11 months as of 2018 when compared to the previous year.

According to the figures, 2,94,837 clearances were granted up to November 30, 2018, to the workers, who hold emigration check required (ECR) passports. In 2017, 3,74,324 emigration clearances were granted, while the number of clearances was 5,07,274 in 2016 and 7,60,738 in 2015. In 2014, 7,75,845 clearances were given to ECR passport-holding workers in the Gulf countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The sharpest decline has been in Saudi Arabia where the number of emigration clearances granted to Indian workers declined from 3,29,882 in 2014 to 65,542 till November 30, 2018. In Qatar, as many as 32,500 Indian workers were granted emigration clearances when compared to the 25,000 clearances made in 2017.

In December 2018, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) V K Singh in the Lok Sabha said in a written response that the prominent reason behind the decline in emigration clearance via the e-Migrate system was due to the fact that the Gulf countries were undergoing a period of economic slowdown. The slowdown in the economy was due to the slump in oil prices. He said, “Coupled with this, the Gulf countries are aiming at filling up maximum posts, both in public and private sector, by their own nationals.”

“Moreover, a large number of Indian nationals holding ECR passports reportedly travel to the Gulf countries on a tourist visa and get their visas converted to employment visa, thereby bypassing the e-Migrate system,” Singh added.

(With Agency inputs)