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And now smart cards for NRIs
George Iype
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June 23, 2005

Do you have a job offer from a foreign country but are unable to fly out because of passport/visa/immigration problems?

Don't worry.

Come August, a smart card will make your life as a Non-Resident Indian job-seeker much easier.

The Union Ministry of NRI Affairs has chalked out a mega plan to launch electronic smart cards for all future immigrant Indians who plan to take up jobs across the world.

Jagdish Tytler, Union Minister for NRI Affairs, says that the novel measure will help curb exploitation of Indians going abroad for employment. "We are planning to introduce smart cards as an alternative to passport and visa," the minister told

Tytler said that the smart cards are meant to deal with the 'job and relocation problems' faced by Indians seeking employment in foreign countries, especially in the Gulf nations.

He said the new electronic cards would especially help all those blue-collar workers who plan to take up jobs in the Gulf and elsewhere abroad.

So what is this smart card for NRIs?

The Ministry of NRI Affairs, which is the nodal agency preparing the smart cards, supplied with the following details:

The smart card will:

According to the NRI ministry officials, the smart card will have a two-year validity. It will initially be issued only to those Indians who are going to the Gulf countries for employment.

"Immigrant Indian workers across the Gulf countries are facing a host of simmering problems. So our first target is to issue the smart cards to all those who are going to the Gulf region," a senior official involved with the electronic card preparations told

He said the government hopes that the issuance of the smart card would considerably tackle the problems of identification and compensation faced by expat workers in the Gulf countries.

The card will include insurance cover with possible additional fees to take care of rehabilitation of returnees and other requirements. Plans to include a verification statement in the card, based on attested educational documents of the applicant, are also being considered.

This, the official said, will help all categories of Indians employed in the Gulf, where attested documents are mandatory for jobs.

Officials said the card will later be issued, in a phased manner, to all Indians going to other countries for employment.

Will the NRIs who are already working across the globe be issued the smart cards?

Minister Tytler says "Yes." "Although right now, the smart cards will be issued to only new immigrants, our idea is to provide these cards to all NRIs," he said.

But since there are more than more than 4.5 million overseas Indians, supplying smart cards to all of them could take years. Officials say it is going to be a very lengthy and complex procedure, which could run into at least three to five years.

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