The Sad Realities of Pakistani Illegal Migrants in Europe and Change in Migration Policies
Photo : UNHCR / Massimo Sestini (UNHCR / Massimo Sestini)

After the year 2000, many countries have changed its illegal migration policy, in which England (UK) is the foremost. In the 80s and 90s, it was believed that if you enter any European country, you will get citizenship there, but now the time has changed, these countries have changed their policies, but the agent mafias in Pakistan are still there. People are also shown the same dreams that were shown 40 years ago. People crossing the border illegally from Pakistan usually end up in England, Germany, Canada or any other European country.

Why People Want to go Europe?

Poor people are willing to take risks to change the economic condition of their families, because if they go abroad, even one euro, one dollar or one pound they send will give them so much money in Pakistani currency. Gives, as it is not easy for any laborer to earn daily.

 Due to the lack of employment in Pakistan, many Pakistanis are forced to take measures that may even endanger their lives for better future in Europe.

In Pakistan, the unemployment rate has increased drastically. It has come to be seen that the people of Gujranwala division are mostly in the process of going to Europe.

Due to the absence of large industries in the district of Gujarat, local people go to Europe illegally. In many European countries including Norway, Great Britain and Germany, people Gujarat, Mandi Bahauddin and Kharians are settled there. The sad thing is that a large number of immigrants going to Europe illegally and taking many risks.

Kharian region of Gujarat is also known as ‘’Mini Europe’’. Sarai Alamgir, Gujrat, Lala Musa Mandi Bahauddin and its adjoining areas have a large number of families whose relatives, loved ones and close acquaintances are settled in Europe. The reality is that as long as there is unemployment, poverty and insecurity in the country, it will not be easy to stop illegal migration to Europe. In Pakistan, the Federal Investigation Agency continues to take action against travel agents who illegally send immigrants to Europe. But it also hesitates to arrest the real ones.

Problems Faced by Illegal Migrants in Destination Country

There are many stories of youth from villages going abroad through illegal ways. The truth is that travel agents are accused of misleading the common man. Such people have to pass through waters and forests on the way. Many times they become victims of accidents and they even have to face violence. All the work of transporting from Pakistan to Europe is not done by one agent, but this work is done by a group of agents active in different regions and different countries, they carried out through a managed network. Everyone does their part and gets their money. Those going to Europe usually sell their lands, buffaloes and women’s jewelry to get out illegally. They hope that once they reach Europe, their debts will be cleared in a short time. Then a new house will be built. And then soon they will have a new car and so their bad days will go.

  1. Language Barriers: Many illegal migrants struggle to communicate with locals due to language barriers, which can lead to misunderstandings and feelings of isolation.
  2. Discrimination: Illegal migrants often face discrimination in the destination country due to their status, which can make them more vulnerable to exploitation.
  3. Lack of Access to Services: Illegal migrants often lack access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and legal aid.
  4. Fear of Deportation: Illegal migrants often live in constant fear of deportation, which can lead to a feeling of insecurity and instability.
  5. Exploitation: Some illegal migrants are exploited for their labor or services, and are often paid low wages or no wages at all.

Illegal Migration Through Legal Way

Now a-days, new term has been introduced by the agent mafia and that is “Travel on Visit Visa and then settle in destination country legally”. To avoid the difficult route, tight security arrangements and the fear of losing money, agent mafia in Pakistan have found a new way to appeal to the wishes of people settled in Europe, in which they make people dream that they apply a visit visa to any European country, stay there till the visa expires and disappear as soon as the visa expires.

Along with that, they also say that as soon as you reach there, our man will take you from there and you will be given a job, you will work and your visit visa will be converted into a work visa. While reality has nothing to do with it.

One such case came to our attention that Saif Khan, a resident of Ravi Road, Lahore, who went to Malaysia on a visit visa, was told that he would stay in Malaysia for few months, after which he would be shifted to France.

“I was locked in a room for 7 days where I was given a bottle of water 3 times and food once in 24 hours, Saif Khan Baloch

“My father has passed away and I am the eldest son of my family. The conditions of our house were very bad, I did not even have a job due to which it was becoming very difficult to survive. Someone advised me that why not go to a European country so that the conditions can improve a bit. A cousin of mine introduced me to an agent. He (Agent) said that I will send you to France. He asked for a total of two million rupees, but our deal was done with him for 1.5 million. He told me that first he will send me to Malaysia on a visit visa, I will work there for two months and from there he will send me to France by sea Illegally (Through Donkey). He also said that our boy will receive you when he goes to Malaysia and will also put you to work”.

“On September 17, I went to Malaysia from Pakistan. At the Malaysia airport, I was received by a man and taken to a flat. Two days later he took me to a restaurant where he put me to work. I was very happy that I got the job. About a week later, I was at my work and the same guy who received me at the airport came with 6 people and took me with him. They took me to a deserted room and locked me there. They told me that if you ask for the remaining 7 lakh rupees from your family, then they will leave you, otherwise they will kill you. They also took my mobile phone and all the documents. I called my mother at home, my mother sold my elder sister’s jewelry and borrowed 7 lakh rupees from friends and sent them to Malaysia to save my life”.

A Copy of Saif Khan Baloch’s Visit Visa

“I was locked in a room for 7 days where I was given a bottle of water 3 times and food once in 24 hours. It looked like I was going to die. I didn’t know whether it was day or night outside, what time it was. My family was more worried than me, mother’s condition was also very critical. When they got the money, they again said to arrange my own return ticket. I then called a friend and asked him to get me a ticket to come back to Pakistan. And thus returned to Pakistan in less than a month. When I came back and wanted to contact this agent, I found out that his numbers are blocked and he has fled the country. I lost 15 lac rupees while going to France, but nothing came in hand. I request to all people please don’t believe anyone”.


What is Port of Entry, How EU work on it.?

It was very easy to reach England in the 1980s, at that time a Pakistani could get a 6-month visa to England for one million rupees, people took a visit visa and applied for asylum after reaching there. But those who don’t have a million, they would reach Russia via Donkey, enter Croatia, Serbia and Eastern Europe from St. Petersburg, but these are the countries that often shoot illegal people’s boat. The people who want to reach England have to go through the France. In 1980s, an immigration office was built in Kale port France, while England built an office in Dover Port, where people could enter England after clearance by boat from France.

In the 1990s, England abolished its office in Dover and opened its own immigration office at Calais Port in France, where they began screening before entering England, and British Immigration still sits at Calais Port, with the aim of the boat that will come from France will be checked beforehand. England has signed an MoU with France and has placed its officers there in the style of a fire war so that minimum people can enter England.

Europe has now made a new law, including Germany and England, that the first port of entry of any person, entering any country will be deported to that country (port of entry means that if a person entered England from France, and at the time of entry he was recorded as having entered from France, that person would be deported back to France, regardless of the country of his nationality), and the second major thing is that you will not be able to apply for asylum in England, but you will be told to go there (First Port of Entry Country) and apply. You will be deported to the first port of entry of the European Union.

If the port of entry data does not show in England, you will be thrown into a detention center. In 2022, it is not possible that there will be anyone illegal migrant outside the detention center.

The European Union (EU) has adopted various policies to address the issue of illegal migration. In 2018, the EU launched a new migration strategy, which includes measures to reduce the incentives for illegal migration, such as strengthening border management and improving cooperation with third countries.

What Happens to Asylum Seekers in Europe?

 The process for asylum seekers in Europe varies from country to country. Generally, asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first country they enter, known as the “safe country of asylum.” If they are granted asylum in that country, they can stay and receive legal protection. If their application is denied, they may be deported or detained.

In many countries, asylum seekers must wait for a decision on their application, often in a detention center. They may be given temporary accommodation while their application is processed, but they cannot work during this period.

The Inconvenient Realities of Pakistani Illegal Migrants in Europe and Changing in Migration Policies
Asylum seekers talk to a police officer: Photo Credit: Reuters

If an application is approved, the asylum seeker may be granted refugee status and allowed to stay in the country. They may be given access to public services such as health care and education, as well as the right to work.

In some cases, asylum seekers may be relocated to another European country to have their application processed. This is part of the Dublin Regulation, which states that an asylum seeker must claim asylum in the first country they enter.

Overall, the process for asylum seekers in Europe is complex and can be difficult to navigate. It is important that they receive legal assistance to ensure their rights are protected.

 According to the Legal expert Mr. Zahid Hussain, dealing with the illegal migration cases in UK said, “The government of UK provides legal aid to everyone here in England. When the case starts, there are 100% chances of rejection of asylum in 30 days, then the first tribunal forms, then second and when third tribunal closes your application with rejection, then the scheme of voluntary removal starts”.

“Now the fact is, there are two types of voluntary removals; The first is that if England deports you, you will be banned for ten years from applying for a UK visa.

Read Also: Socio-cultural and Mental Health Impacts of Illegal Migration on Migrant and his/her Family

If someone takes Voluntary Deportation, government will also give 2000 pounds, ticket and after back to your country, you are eligible to apply for a visa after 3 months.” But you will never get a visa for England in your life again because your history recorded in system as Illegal Migrant, he added.

“In the 1990s & early 2000s, it used to be that when you applied for asylum, you would do a paper marriage, which would change the status. After that he would stop the asylum case and come on a married dependent visa. At that time, it was not so strict, after 2000, in Europe, especially in England, a new law was introduced that a person who does not have a legal entry and does not have a permit from the Home Office cannot marry. This law has been given the name of “sham marriages”. An illegal employee cannot work anywhere, if caught anywhere, whoever hired him will be fined 10,000 pounds/Euros.

Methods of obtaining Nationality / Resident / Work Permit / Legal Migration

  1. By Asylum

According to the legal expert Adv. Malik Shahid who is dealing the illegal migrants cases in Europe “In 2022, Single person has not only become difficult but impossible, a single person will get asylum if he says that he is a “Eunuch” & A single mother, meaning a woman with children without husband”, even these people still have a 50-50 chance, they don’t have 100% chances either”.

  1. By Investment

According to Adv. Malik shahid, “if anyone want to migrate legally, he/she has to invest in destination country, for example if anyone want legal migration in England, He/she has to invest 04 lac Ponds, create 4 job opportunities or open the franchise of registered company”.

  1. By Marriage

A person can get legal migration after marry someone there in a legal way. He/she will get Spouse Visa / engagement Visa etc.

Can A Visitor Visa Holder get an Asylum During his Legal Stay?

 According to Adv. Malik Shahid, “a person who goes through visit visa, he has 6 months legally, he applies for asylum in that 6 months, now since he applied for asylum himself, when he goes for interview, there are 50% chances of acceptance.  After his interview, it’s up to the home office that let him go or detain him. Now the question is, when he is on visit visa, he has the legal right to stay free than why the home office will detain him? because he applied for asylum in the meantime and his status changed. Now he is an asylum seeker so he will be handled in the same manner. If you have applied for asylum, you neither get a house, nor get permission to work, you will not get any benefit until the asylum is decided. Have to report to home office every month or every week”.

 Which Countries are accepting Illegal Migrants?

 Europe has changed many of its laws aimed at preventing people from entering the country illegally. Many countries have also signed agreements to prevent people from entering the country illegally. Countries like England, USA, Germany, Canada and France have stopped entry. But Italy is still the only country that offers asylum to people who entered illegally. How Italy treated Faheem Janjua (40), a Pakistani who entered Italy by boat from Libya and how he obtained legal status?

The Inconvenient Realities of Pakistani Illegal Migrants in Europe and Changing in Migration Policies
Faheem Janjua

“I entered Italy by boat from Libya on June 22, 2008. boat belonged to a Pakistani agent named Ustad Skoon. After sailing for 35 hours at sea, we reached the coast of Italy where the police and media were already present. The police rescued us and shifted us to a refugee camp where we were given clothes and accommodation.  There was a room with two beds in which 6 people were kept. After staying in this refugee camp for 17 days, the police transferred us to a big refugee camp in Rome where we had to stay for almost 2 years. During these two years, we were not allowed to leave the camp, nor could we do any work. They used to eat whatever food was available in the camp itself.  Because the permission to work outside the camp is given to those who have a contract there to work for someone. I applied for asylum which was decided in 2015 and I got legal papers based on which I was able to travel back to Pakistan”.

“During that time, I could neither do any work there nor send money back to my family, but I used to ask for money from Pakistan which my family arranged.

Those days were very bad, there was no freedom, no work and the family behind me was also very worried that they did not know what condition I was in, there was no contact. But now I have lifetime papers based on which I travel”.

“In my opinion, compared to other countries, Italy is now the country that gives asylum to illegals like this and then after a few years, meaning at most 4 to 5 years, you get the papers and your status becomes legal. Permit off sate is obtained, contract is also obtained, life becomes easier”.

Mohsin Luqman, who lives in Italy these days and sees cases of illegal immigrants in Italy, Portugal and Spain, says that “People who enter Italy illegally come from two routes, one through sea and the other through the mountains. After coming here, if they do not register in the immigration department first, they have no idea that they can ever get legal status. In January 2022, Italy announced a scheme under which people who had been living in Italy illegally for two years, tried to learn Italian language, tried to get a driving license, earned 17 to 18 thousand euros in two years, on which they have paid tax, and if they have proof of it, then it will be given legal status. They have named it “Special Protection Law”.

“For registration as illegal migrantion/migrant you have to go through the “C3 form interview” process at the immigration office, after getting your data an inquiry is made by FIA in Pakistan on request of Italian government whether what you said is true or false. After the inquiry, the case goes to the court, it is the will of the judge to date the case for 1 year or 1 day, but this whole process takes at least 4 to 5 years”.

What an Illegal Migrant Obtains?

  • Lack of access to services.
  • Kidnapping and ransoms.
  • Sexual exploitation.
  • Exploitation of labor.
  • Injury and illness.
  • Danger to Life
  • Distance from Loved Ones
  • Problems like Loan returns
  • Detention in destination country
  • No way to return
  • F.I.A Case here in Pakistan
  • Ban on Traveling and Government Jobs.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Headquarter File Photo

How can we stop Illegal Migration from Pakistan? Why FIA is failed to stop Illegal Migration?

According to Deputy Director FIA Sarwat Butt, Illegal migration through unfrequented land routes from Pakistan to Iran, Turkey and Greece is a wide spread sector. A long porous border of Pak-Iran provides vast opportunities to illegal migrants. Despite the fact that FIA has busted many gangs of human traffickers but still the opportunities for trafficked and traffickers are vast on this sector. FIA has significantly reduced the volume of illegal migrants on this sector.  Concerted efforts by all stakeholders are needed to have a meaningful impact to stop illegal migration from this sector. Smugglers are often perceived within their community as sources of trusted information. The role of smugglers is ambivalent. They are facilitators of illegal migration, but migrants are also sometimes precariously – dependent on them. Smugglers actively recruit in some (rural) areas of Pakistan, thereby promoting irregular migration channels. FIA is only responsible to check its manned points/offices on long crossing borders of the country whereas illegal migration is done through unmanned area of the boundaries. Anti-Human Trafficking Wing of FIA should be strengthen through training and provision of adequate resources to field units. Awareness among public and conduct of seminars in areas of origination of illegal migration. The awareness should be in collaboration with civil society and media. Community sessions to increase awareness about migrant smuggling and human trafficking among potential migrants. Strengthen linkages with community activists, religious leaders and local stakeholders and engage them in community activities. Build capacities of local stakeholders and community organizations on migration. The surveillance of long Pak-Iran porous border should be increased from all the points of irregular border crossing”.

Illegal immigrants may lack proper documentation, such as visas or passports, which can lead to difficulties in accessing basic services and essential resources. Illegal immigrants are at risk of deportation if caught, which can lead to the disruption and separation of families. There is a potential for criminal involvement among illegal immigrants who may be in the country illegally, either out of desperation or to take advantage of the lack of oversight.