PETALING JAYA: Despite the freeze in hiring foreign nationals, Nepalis and Bangladeshis are still finding their way into the country but as students now.
The Sun reported that agents claiming to be “education consultants” were bringing in thousands of men from both countries using students visas, only for them to end-up as lowly-paid workers in the manufacturing, construction and plantation industries once they arrived here.
The daily quoted a Bangladeshi worker at a furniture shop in Shah Alam, saying he arrived here on a student visa three years ago. The 24-year-old, who chose to remain anonymous, then obtained a six-month student pass upon enrolling at a language centre for a course he had no details of.
The classes for the course were once a week, and he attended them only three times, after which the agents told him that he was free to work or study in Malaysia.
Like many of his countrymen, the man chose to work, as long as he was “able to make more money.”
A source from the construction industry also told The Sun that such practices were common. He cited a recent raid at one of their sites, where 200 foreign workers were rounded up. Many held student visas and even professional employment visas.
According to the source, many of the foreigners were issued student visas, although they could not even read and write in English.
According to Human Resources Ministry requirements, international students must be able to converse, read and write in English in order for such visas to be issued.
A spokesperson from the Immigration Department told the daily that abuse of the six-month student pass was prevalent, especially in institutes with high numbers of foreign students taking up language courses.
The daily also quoted a Bangladeshi news report, saying that agencies in Bangladesh were duping youths there by offering “study and work” packages in Malaysia, for a fee of 220,000 taka (RM11,600).
One “victim” who fell for such a scam was Ariful Hasan of Khilgaon, who arrived in Malaysia to study at an “international academy”, but ended-up treated as a “day labourer” by his so-called “employers” here.
Another “student”, Sohag Kabir, also fell victim to a similar scam. He claimed that fraudulent agents in Bangladesh were duping youths by promising them jobs in Malaysia that supposedly paid up to 50,000 taka (RM2,600) a month, for a five- to six-hour work day.
Several “students” who ended-up in Malaysia after buying into such scams, were then forced to settle for part-time jobs that usually involved them having to work 12 hours or more daily, in order to survive, said the report.
Malaysian immigration laws allow foreign students to work part-time for a maximum of 20 hours a week, provided they had proper documentation and approvals.