Afghan nationals receive a lifeline

Official says other than govt. job Afghans can take up any other employment for sustenance

October 31, 2021 08:37 pm | Updated 11:29 pm IST - New Delhi

Afghan Nationals upon thier arrival from Kabul at the Hindan Airbase in Ghaziabad on Sunday, August 22, 2021.

Afghan Nationals upon thier arrival from Kabul at the Hindan Airbase in Ghaziabad on Sunday, August 22, 2021.

Afghan nationals who came to India on an emergency visa after Taliban takeover of their country, may opt for “self employment,” a senior government official said.

The official said that other than government job or any other work in the government sector, Afghans living here could take up any other employment opportunity for sustenance.

After the Taliban toppled the government in Afghanistan in August and took over the reins, thousands of Afghans made desperate attempts to flee the country. India also evacuated its embassy staff along with 112 Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan on special flight.

As a humanitarian gesture, on August 17, India introduced “e-Emergency X-Miscellaneous visa” for the distressed residents. However, only a few such visas have been processed so far.

A Home Ministry official declined to give the number of Afghans who had applied for the emergency visa or those who have come to India.

A September 2 order by the Home Ministry said “Afghan nationals living in India on any category of visa will be granted extension of visa by FRRO/FRO [Foreigners Regional Registration Office] concerned on gratis basis until further orders. They will not be granted exit or issued leave India notice by FRRO/FRO concerned without the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

Another official said that after the new category of visa was announced, around 60,000 applications were received. “Most Afghans who have applied for visas are in countries such as Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The applications are vetted by the security agencies before they are processed,” said the official.

In 2017, the Ministry had liberalised the “stay visa/residential permit” to Afghan nationals on a case-to-case basis on the grounds of “well-founded fear of persecution on account of face, religion, sex, nationality, ethnic identity, membership of a particular social group or political opinion in Afghanistan.” The stay visa initially valid for one year is State-specific and is restricted to the State where they are permitted to stay.

The eligible Afghans staying here on Long Term Visa, those from the six minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists, are allowed to open bank accounts or purchase small units to live or run a small business. The FRRO keeps a record of such employment opportunities.

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