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> Agents use education institutes as front to bring in foreign workers
KUALA LUMPUR: They arrive in Malaysia by the thousands, purportedly to seek academic qualifications. However, on arrival, they become lowly-paid workers in industries such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture.
These foreign “students”, especially from Nepal and Bangladesh, end up joining the labour-intensive job market here.
An investigation by theSun revealed workers are being sent as students to Malaysia by agents, some of whom proclaim themselves to be “education consultants”.
In the course of investigations, theSun spoke to several individuals who entered the country on student visas, some for up to four years.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a 24year-old Bangladeshi worker who leads the operations of a furniture shop in the outskirts of Shah Alam, revealed he first came to Malaysia on a student visa three years ago.
He obtained a six-month student pass upon enrolling at a language centre for a course on which he was given no details.
“My visa was valid for six months and the classes were once a week, and these classes were just a front,” he said.
“I just went there three times. The agents told us we were free to work or study in Malaysia, although we were sent here under student visas.”
He claimed many Bangladeshis came to Malaysia with student visas and remained here as they are able to make more money than fresh graduates.
In a related development, a source from the construction industry revealed to theSun that such cases were also prevalent in that sector.
“Our site was once raided and about 200 construction workers belonging to a subcontractor were arrested. When we checked their passports, they had student passes and even professional employment visas,” the source said.
“These Bangladeshi workers couldn’t even read, but they were issued student visas.”
A similar report was featured by a Bangladeshi news portal, which implicated an agent who had sent students “who could not even write their names”.
Some Bangladeshi students who had gained admission into local higher education institutes were reportedly unable to complete the necessary forms while undergoing the mandatory postarrival health screening.
The Human Resources Ministry requires international students to be able to converse, read and write in English.
However, “students” are being lured by agents who work with some local learning establishments in what they term “a service, because of the delay in processing work permits”.
The abuse of the six-month student pass, which are issued predominantly for language courses, are quite prevalent, said a spokesman from the Immigration Department.
“The department usually targets institutes with a massive number of foreign students, as not many locals enrol in language centres.”
However, he said there had been a decline in enrolment for language centres.
In 2013, Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) was appointed by the government to manage and process student pass applications. Formerly, the process was carried out directly by the institute at the Immigration Department.
A source from the Immigration Department revealed that before the appointment of EMGS, the government faced difficulty in verifying the authenticity of academic documents issued in the applicant’s country of origin, as it did not “have the means to do so”.
EMGS is also responsible for crosschecking with the source country whether the information being presented by potential students are genuine. Once the student has submitted the required documents, a Visa Approval Letter will be issued by the Immigration Department.
However, the issue is circumvented by some agents in Bangladesh who falsify bank statements and related documents.