Examples of national migration policies in South and South-West Asia

Countries develop strategies to manage migration by designing migration policies that align with national priorities for the movement of people. A comprehensive policy framework for international migration that also considers the protection of migrant workers requires an explicit national policy on migration, a regulatory framework that supports the policy and sufficient capacity to implement and administer the policy.

National migration policies in the subregion generally aim to address six main themes:

  • The protection and welfare of migrant workers.
  • Limiting ‘brain drain’ by restricting outflows.
  • Optimizing the benefits of organized labour migration.
  • Regulating the inflow of foreign labour.
  • Post-admission management of migrants.
  • Measures to prevent or reduce irregular labour migration.

Most countries of South and South-West Asia have developed out-migration policies. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan enacted legislation pertaining to out-migration in the late 1970s and early 1980s and Nepal followed suit in the early 1990s by promulgating the Labour and Employment Act (Khatri 2007).

Specifically, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have in place laws that promote international labour migration, regulate private recruitment agencies and ensure the rights of migrant workers (Naujoks 2009). Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have mechanisms to regulate private employment agencies through a registration and monitoring system. India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also have a system of penalties and rewards to encourage ethical recruitment.

Licensing systems in Pakistan and Sri Lanka were set up with a provision that they undergo a periodic evaluation by government. In addition, Sri Lanka has mechanisms for the payment of compensation to migrant workers based on inquiries by an authorized officer (IOM 2005).3


3 For more details on government initiatives related to migration see the labour migration chapter in this report.