The process for labour import has become lengthy since the start of a new application process that mandates labour agents and firms to submit and verify documents of foreign workers for approval.

Contractors and private house owners in Gelephu said the approval for foreign workers to import takes at least one week.

They claimed some workers leave for other works before the approval and verification process is completed.

A contractor in Gelephu said that the current labour application and verification process was lengthy. “Firstly, labour contractors have to search for workers, then we have to collect the document. We submit the documents for approval. It takes three to five days for verification.”

He said that the earlier process of verifying documents and rejecting at the border gate was more effective. “Covid-19 situation has improved. It’s important that we shorten the labour import process. More workers get rejected today.”

A private house owner from Gelephu, Mandan Oli, said the labour approval for private construction was challenging.

“We have to collect voter cards and other documents for approval. It takes more than 15 days. Earlier it was faster and convenient,” he said.

The import of foreign workers resumed in March after two months of suspension in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and surging omicron cases across the country.

The quarantine period is reduced to five days from 22 days now.

Most of the foreign workers were imported for hydropower projects and big construction projects from Gelephu so far.

The labour import is also allowed for automobile and house constructions.

However, officials from the regional labour office in Gelephu said the approval for labour import does not take more than two days.

“It takes one day to complete the verification. Once we receive verification from the immigration department, we give them the approval,” an official said.

Unlike in the past, the regional office started verifying the documentation process before the approval in the face of the pandemic. Earlier, the import of labour was done based on the work order. Verification and documentation were done at the border gate.

Contractors and house owners said almost all foreign workers get approval in the past. “It’s challenging to get approval for all workers today. I applied for 12 workers but only six of them could come in. The rest left for other works when the approval was given,” a house owner said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labour is in the process of allowing labour import for the budget hotels as part of the economic recovery plans.

Officials said if the plan comes through, budget hotels would be allowed to import a cook.

It was learnt that more than 700 workers were imported from Gelephu since foreign workers import resumed in March.