Undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia urged to go home

Undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia urged to go home
In a statement, the DFA urged the estimated 400,000 Filipinos in Malaysia who have no legal immigration status to take advantage of the voluntary deportation program of the Malaysian Government before it is terminated on August 30.
Rudy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia are encouraged to take advantage of the Malaysian government's voluntary deportation program before the month ends.

An estimated 400,000 Filipinos do not have legal immigration status in Malaysia, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“We appeal to our undocumented kababayan in Malaysia to take this opportunity to be able to return to their loved ones in the Philippines without jail time or fines,” Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Charles Jose said.

Jose assured the undocumented Filipinos that the embassy will assist them if they opt to go home through voluntary deportation.

The Malaysia government has implemented a crackdown against foreign nationals following the end of its two-year rehiring program for expatriates in June.

The voluntary deportation program allows undocumented migrants to leave Malaysia without serving jail time or settling compounded penalties.

According to Jose, undocumented migrants would only have to pay a fixed discounted penalty of MYR300  and a MYR100 exit fee.

From January 2016 to June 2018, about 50,000 Filipinos have availed of the program. The Philippine Embassy has assisted them through issuance of travel documents and payment of their exit fees, as well as their one-way airfare to the Philippines.

“The Embassy has been proactive in assisting and looking after the welfare of Filipinos working and residing in Malaysia regardless of their immigration status,” Jose said.

In June 30, the Malaysian government ended its rehiring program that allowed undocumented migrant workers to apply for valid working permits and regularize their immigration status.

Only 8,000 Filipinos or 2 percent of the estimated total of undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia applied for the rehiring program, Jose said.

“Our assistance to those in need has been there and is continuing so I appeal to our kababayan to take the voluntary deportation offer before August 30,” the Filipino envoy said.

Filipinos who want to avail the program but do not have valid passports may go to the Philippine Embassy for interview and processing of their travel documents.

They will also be provided an endorsement letter which they will take to the Immigration Department, which will process the documents after paying penalty and exit pass fees.

"The individual should return to the Philippines within the time frame set by the Immigration Department, and have return arrangements within five days after issuance of the exit pass," the DFA said.

Filipinos in Malaysia are also advised to always carry their identification and legal documents in the midst of the termination of Malaysia's rehiring program. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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