The centre was opened in May this year as part of the Qatari authorities’ efforts to facilitate and streamline procedures for bringing expatriates to Qatar. Nepal is the fifth country to have a QVC, with similar centres opened in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.
A view of the building housing the QVC
On average, around 250 people visit the centre for medical examination and other procedures everyday, Gurung told Gulf Times. “We have 90 employees and work in accordance with the regulations set by Qatar and Nepal. The centre provides multiple services, including vital data services, medical examination, signing of contracts, authentication of documents and others,” he said.
Noting that Qatar remains a top choice among Nepalese youths vying for overseas jobs, Gurung - who is also the chairman of SOS Group of Companies - said laws are now stricter for manpower agencies in Nepal.
Hem Bahadur Gurung
Explaining how the QVC works and its benefits, Gurung said the centre has employees who are fluent in English, Arabic and local dialects, and applicants can get appointments through phone calls.
“We also provide consultation through our call station, and provide free SIM cards for successful applicants before they leave for Qatar.”
The QVC ensures that workers can go to Qatar for work free of cost, according to Gurung. “The medical exam and fingerprinting will be completed and the ID will be ready before a worker goes to Qatar. The centre helps avoid cases of workers returning to Nepal for their failure to clear the medical test in Qatar. No worker has to pay for the medical test.”
Gurung stressed that the QVC ensures transparency in the completion of necessary procedures. “The centre has brought in a very systematic wage protection system that prevents all kinds of exploitation and unethical, illegal practices by brokers or intermediaries. Employees are now able to get electronic contracts that ensure job security and protection from any form of exploitation. It has brought the relevant procedures under a single window system, and manpower and recruitment agencies are now obliged to strictly follow this system,” he said.
Ten of the 90 staff members are counsellors. “Our employees ask an applicant if his manpower agency is taking money from him. If yes, we ask the agency to return the money. People in Nepal have learnt many things about the visa procedures for Qatar from the media, so they should not be conned by manpower agencies. I want to reiterate that any citizen of Nepal who wants to go to Qatar for work does not have pay a single riyal to anyone,” he added.
The centre works through co-ordination among various departments and authorities concerned in Qatar and Nepal, as well as a Singapore-based company.
Listing the key benefits of the Qatar Visa Centre, Gurung said: “The main advantages are ensuring transparency in the presence of a verified job contract, achieving the welfare of workers and protecting their rights, documentation of the job contract in Nepal under the supervision of the authorities concerned in Qatar, ensuring the fitness and eligibility of workers before they board their flight, and completion of the relevant procedures for getting a residence permit upon arrival (in Qatar).”
Once an applicant arrives at the centre, his/her reference number and passport details are verified. “They should provide all required documents to support the visa application. Thereafter, a copy of the work contract will be provided to the worker for review and e-signature before proceeding to obtain biometric data and conducting the medical tests. The worker will be given a copy of the contract after the completion of all procedures,” the official said.
The centre will cover other kinds of visas in the future and the details will be disclosed later, according to Gurung.
Asked about how the Nepal government has provided assistance to the initiative, the official said: “We have received 100% support from the government, which views the centre positively and as part of an integrated recruitment system.”
A total of 13 QVCs have been opened so far in five countries.
Launched in October 2018 in Sri Lankan capital Colombo, QVCs have since been opened at a number of cities in different countries - Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh, Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan, Kathmandu in Nepal, and New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi in India.
More QVCs are expected to be opened in Indonesia, the Philippines and Tunisia.