News update

ILO hosts tour of the Qatar Visa Center in Sri Lanka

ILO brought together a broad range of migration stakeholders in Sri Lanka to discuss progress on ensuring fair recruitment for migrant workers through the Qatar Visa Center (QVC) in Colombo. The ILO is providing technical advice on the development of the Colombo QVC which aim to make the recruitment and deployment procedures faster and more transparent for both migrant workers and employers in Qatar, as well as eliminate contract deception.

News | Colombo, Sri Lanka | 18 June 2019
On 18th of June, ILO brought together a broad range of migration stakeholders in Sri Lanka to discuss progress on ensuring fair recruitment for migrant workers through the Qatar Visa Center (QVC) in Colombo. Established in October 2018, the Colombo QVC is part of a network of QVCs established across several countries of origin, which aim to make the recruitment and deployment procedures faster and more transparent for both migrant workers and employers in Qatar, as well as eliminate contract deception.

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Mandated by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs of the State of Qatar, the QVCs facilitate procedures for migrant workers by allowing applicants in many sectors to digitally sign work contracts, enroll their biometric data and undergo mandatory medical testing before departure. Upon completion of the process, visa applicants are able to track the status of the application online. All required services of the QVC are free of charge for migrant workers and are directly paid by employers through bank transfer.

One of the innovative functions of the QVCs is that they serve as an important channel to reduce deception at the recruitment phase and provide workers with detailed information about their rights and obligations, including what living and working in Qatar will be like. Workers can now read their exact contract terms before migrating; giving them greater autonomy to reconsider if the terms do not correspond to their expectations.
QVCs have been opened in multiple cities in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, with plans to establish centers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Tunisia and Kenya.

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The ILO is providing technical advice on the development of the Qatar Visa Centers through its ILO Project Office for the State of Qatar, and supports the dissemination of the QVC procedures among trade unions and civil society organizations in countries of origin, through its Global Action to Improve the Recruitment Framework of Labour Migration.

At the roundtable discussion, representatives of the Qatar Ministry of Interior, the Qatar Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, the Sri Lanka National Trade Union Federation, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Community Development Services, Helvetas Sri Lanka, and the Social Welfare Organization Ampara District met to discuss progress and areas for improvement in the functioning of the QVCs as well as ways to ensure job seekers are aware of the new procedures.

The SLBFE indicates that over 200,000 Sri Lankans registered to migrate for employment in 2017, with the vast majority headed to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Qatar, where the majority work in low-skilled jobs.