Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) invited public inputs to the Emigration Bill 2021. The Bill presents a long overdue opportunity to reform the recruitment process for nationals seeking employment abroad.

Important points:

  • The Bill intends to replace the Emigration Act of 1983.
  • The Bill envisages comprehensive emigration management, institutes regulatory mechanisms governing overseas employment of Indian nationals and establishes a framework for protection and promotion of welfare of emigrants.
  • It launches a new emigration policy division in (MEA) which will be referred to as the Central Emigration Management Authority.
  • It proposes a Bureau of Emigration Policy and Planning, and a Bureau of Emigration Administration shall handle day-to-day operational matters and oversee the welfare of emigrants.
  • It proposes nodal agencies under a Chief Emigration Officer to ensure the welfare and protection of the emigrants.
  • It permits government authorities to punish workers by cancelling or suspending their passports and imposing fines up to Rs 50,000 for violating any of the Bill’s provisions.
  • When enforced, it can be used as a tool to crackdown on workers who migrate through unregistered brokers or via irregular arrangements such as on tourist visas.
  • The proposed legislation will also maintain registration of human resources agencies, validity and renewal and cancellation of a certificate.
  • Besides, authorities will be empowered to have certain powers of the civil court.


  • Labour migration is governed by the Emigration Act, 1983 which sets up a mechanism for hiring through government-certified recruiting agents – individuals or public or private agencies.
  • It outlines obligations for agents to conduct due diligence of prospective employers, sets up a cap on service fees, and establishes a government review of worker travel and employment documents (known as emigration clearances).
  • The Emigration Act, 1983 enacted in the specific context of large-scale emigration to the Gulf, falls short in addressing the wide geo-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic impact that emigration has today.

Way Forward

  • India needs to formulate migration centric policies, strategies, and institutional mechanisms in order to ensure inclusive growth and development and reduce distress induced migration.
  • This will increase India’s prospects for poverty reduction and achieving Sustainable Development Goals.


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