The Belgium government grants long-term visa to nearly 30,000 Indians every year while visa application rejection rate is merely 5%, Belgium Home Affairs ministry official Katy Verzelen revealed on Saturday.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Belgium's immigration liaison officer Katy Verzelen said that there was no need for Indians especially Punjabis to enter Belgium using unauthorised means.
"While we grant 30000 long term visas to Indians every year, the short term visa figure is roughly 1250. The rejection of visa applications is just 5%. Indians can legally migrate to Belgium very easily and there is no need to fell prey to unscrupulous travel agents to later get detained at Belgium," She advised.
Katy was in Jalandhar to monitor road shows being organised by the Belgium government in association with Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development for the promotion of safe and legal migration.
"The Belgium government grants visa on study, work and self employed and family categories basis. We also give financial assistance to meritorious students from less developed nations to help them pursue courses at Belgium universities and technical institutions. We grant work permit to highly skilled professionals but with a rider of minimum monthly salary of Rs 1,36,375," She said, adding that there were three categories of work permits of different time limits.
She said that her government was concerned over attempts of Indians', a majority of them Punjabis, to enter Belgium in an unauthorised manner, primarily with an aim to sneak into United Kingdom.
"We have detained 1600 Indians in 2008 followed by 1100 in 2009 while the figure reduced to 600 during current year. These Indians were made to stay at detention centers while it took nearly five months to deport them. In fact, the idea to launch awareness campaign in Punjab about legal means to migrate was originated after Belgium authorities started intercepting such irregular Punjabi migrants," She said.
This is Belgium's second such awareness campaign in India and the same would likely to end by February end. "We are funding Euro 40000 to host 30 road shows in rural areas of Jalandhar while information leaflets are also being distributed to the locals in Punjabi language. I am going to propose to the government to launch another such campaign since it really worked in checking irregular migration to my country," Katy quipped.
Former Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Paramjit Singh Sahai said that Punjabis were being imparted knowledge about legal means to settle abroad since the community was passionate for greener pastures abroad since generations. "The applicants can also get information about safe migration from ministry of overseas Indians affairs hotline 1800 11 3090 or 011-40503090," he said.