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SETTING UP OF NRI GOA FACILITATION CENTRE

Goans everywhere cherish their Goanness and Goan roots with passion and pride. On a conservative estimate, over 5.00 lakh persons of Goan origin live outside Goa, being 2.5 lakhs abroad and another 2.5 lakhs in the rest of India. Never the less, these Goans make it a point to visit the land of their ancestors as often as possible, retain and revive their contacts with their kith and kin in Goa and nurture passionately in their hearts a strong pride of their Goan roots.

Goans settled outside have formed their own Association for strengthening their bonds, organizing cultural events and sharing common concerns. It was therefore in the fitness of things that the Govt. of Goa took a conscious decision to create an autonomous, totally non political institution to address the issues concerning the Goan Diaspora and to provide for them a living platform on which to meet under the name and style "NRI Goa - Facilitiation Centre". Inaugrated on 18/02/2002. A four member Executive Committee constituted vide Govt. Order No. 14/1/2001-HD(G)NRI dated 06/12/2001 headed by the Late Shri Chandrakant Keni was set up for the purpose of formulating, processing and administering the schemes for the welfare of Goan NRIs. Further, in order to monitor the implementation of decisions taken by the Executive Committee, the Govt. had also constituted a Monitoring Committee headed by the Chief Secretary.

This was the precursor to the present NRI Commission which was set up in February 2006 by appointment of Shri Eduardo Faleiro as the 1st Commissioner for NRI Affairs with Rank and Status of a Cabinet Minister. Dr. Wilfred Mesquita succeeded Shri Faleiro as the Commissioner for NRI Affairs w.e.f. 04/06/2012.

CORE ACTIVITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT

Constitution of State Level Committee for speedy redressal of grievances / problems of NRGs

A State Level Committee headed by the Commissioner of NRI Affairs set up in January 2007 deals with redressal of grievances of NRGs on various matters including property related issues. This Committee is well represented with District Collectors, Supdts. of Police, Chief Town Planner, Director of Survey and Settlements, Director of Industry, Trade & Commerce, etc,. This Committee has taken follow up action on various issues with the departments concerned and resolved several issues to the satisfaction of affected NRGs.

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State Level Committee on Migration

In order to evolve a proper monitoring mechanism to deal with various aspects of Emigration, such as unscrupulous Travel Agents, unregistered Recruiting Agents and Illegal Immigrants, a State Level Monitoring Committee headed by the Commissioner for NRI Affairs has been constituted. Senior Government Officers including Inspector General of Police and District Collectors are members of the Committee.

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Protection of Property Rights of NRGs in Goa

Through the efforts made by the NRI Commission, the State Government has amended the Goa Daman and Diu Buildings (Lease, Rent & Eviction) Control Act ,1968 so as to protect the property rights of NRIs and enable them to recover possession of their premises when the same are bonafide required for their own occupation or for the occupation of any member of their family. The Amendment Act which has come into force from 25th June 2009 places the NRI residing outside India, who is either a Citizen of India or is a Person of Indian Origin. In other words, the NRIs (including NRGs) get the benefit of speedy justice for recovery of possession of the premises.

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Authentication of Education Certificates for employment or higher studies abroad.

Until September 2006, Goans proceeding abroad either for higher studies or for employment, had to necessarily approach the Government of India, Ministry of HRD, New Delhi for authentication of their educational certificates, and the Ministry of External Affairs for countersignature of such certificates.

Pursuant to the initiative taken by the Commissioner for NRI Affairs, the Government of India delegated to the State Government the aforesaid powers of authentication, and accordingly, on 28th September 2006, the State Government notified the Director of Education, the Director of Higher Education, the Director of Technical Education and State Director of Craftsmen Training as the Competent Authorities to exercise these powers of authentication of certificates for the courses of study conducted by the education institutions coming within their respective purview.

Once such Certificates are authenticated by the Directors concerned, the Department of NRI Affairs issues recommendatory letters to the Foreign Missions in Delhi or their Consulates in Mumbai, as the case may be, for the purpose of stamping these Certificates so as to facilitate the Goan youth in getting visa for employment or higher studies abroad.

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Consular Legalization of Documents for submission to Indian Missions abroad / Foreign Governments

Residents of Goa are often required to submit their documents to Indian Missions abroad or to Foreign Governments for various legal purposes including Legal Heirship Certificate and Power of Attorney for claiming death compensation by the next of kin, etc. These documents, after being duly attested by the District Magistrate and the State Home Department, have to be submitted to Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, without which the Indian Missions or Foreign Governments will not accept such documents.

The question of designating a local authority for Consular Legalization of these documents was taken up by the Commissioner for NRI Affairs with the Foreign Secretary in New Delhi in January 2011 and the Ministry of External Affairs was pleased to decide that the residents of Goa may submit their documents for attestation to the Passport Officer, Goa who, in turn, will send the collected documents by courier every week to the Attestation Cell of CPV Division of MEA in Patiala House Annexe, New Delhi. Thereafter, the duly authenticated documents will be couriered back to the Passport Officer, Goa for delivery to the beneficiary concerned.

The above facility has been extended to the residents of Goa with effect from 14th March 2011.

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Goa Card

In order that NRGs may get faster access and better attention, from Government departments / offices as and when they frequent to pursue their problems including time bound permissions, licences etc, "GOA CARD" has been introduced with effect from January 2008. So far, over 500 Goan expatriates have been issued Goa Cards on request on payment of norminal charges of Rs. 250/- per Card. The Card holders are also entitled to the benefits offered by Government Undertakings, Private Hospitals, Hotels etc. on their services/facilities.

The card holders are also proposed to be covered by Personal Accident Insurance Cover of Rs. 1.00 lakh at a cost of Rs. 26.40 each for the duration of the card.

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Scheme of Skill Upgradation and Pre Departure Orientation Programme for Emigrant Workers

The Overseas Employment Agency of Goa (OEAG), is engaged in assisting the aspiring Goan youth in gainful employment in overseas countries, ensure quality and reliability in the recruitment process, and in imparting skill up-gradation and pre-departure foreign orientation training programmes, so as to familiarize the aspiring youth with general working conditions in foreign countries, adaptation to foreign environment, safety norms and use of tools and equipment which would benefit them while securing jobs in overseas establishments.

The above scheme is implemented through the Government ITIs and Government recognized private technical institutions having adequate infrastructure in place to conduct the skill up-gradation and pre-departure foreign orientation training programmes. The Agency does not charge any fees from the participants. As of today, 502 skilled workers from Goa in the trades of Plumber, Electrician, Refrigeration and A/C Mechanic, Tailoring, Food Production and Beverage Services have taken the benefit of the above scheme.

This apart, the Agency has conducted a number of miscellaneous courses for school drop outs such as Health Care Worker, Mobile Repair, Food Production etc to enable them to procure employment locally or abroad. So far, 362 Goan Youth have taken benefit of these courses.

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OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT AGENCY OF GOA (OEAG)

The Overseas Employment Agency of Goa (OEAG) was established as a "Society" under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 since January 2007, under the aegis of the NRI Commission.

The General Body of the "Society" has been re-constituted w.e.f.12/07/2012 after Dr. Wilfred Mesquita was appointed as the Commissioner for NRI Affairs w.e.f. 04/06/2012. The composition of the General Body is as under :
1) Commissioner for NRI Affairs --------------------- Ex-Officio Chairman
2) Chairman of the Executive Committee ------------ Vice Chairman
3) Secretary to Government (NRI Affairs) ------------- Member.
4) Secretary to Government (Higher & Tech. Edu) -- Member.
5) Secretary to Government (Labour)------------------- Member.
6) Joint/Addl. Secretary (Finance)---------------------- Member.
7) Director of Higher Education ------------------------- Member.
8) Director of Technical Education---------------------- Member.
9) Commissioner Labour & Employment ------------- Member.
10) State Director of Craftsmen Training --------------- Member.
11) Supdt. Of Police, Bureau of Immigration ---------- Member.
12) Regional Passport Officer, Goa----------------------- Member.
13) Representative from Govt. of India, ----------------- Member
   Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, New Delhi (Not below the Rank of Under Secretary)
14) Representative from Directorate General of Shipping in Goa---------------------------- Member.
15) Shri Tajendra Rajendra Lawande, Alto Dabolim, Goa--------------------------------------Member.
16) Shri Iqbal Mohidin Shaikh, Alto Dabolim, Goa ---- Member.
17) Director of Accounts ----------------------------------- Treasurer.
18) Director for NRI Affairs-------------------------------- Member Secretary

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Assistance and guidance to prospective jobseekers abroad

OEAG has been helping a number of Goan youth receiving job offers from abroad, by ascertaining with the help of Indian Missions, the company profiles and genuineness of the job offered so that they are not fleeced. Some of the foreign employers also approach the Agency directly for manpower recruitment, pursuant to which the agency notifies such vacancies in local dailies and pass on the responses to the employers. The OEAG has also promulgated a list of Do's and Don'ts for guidance of workers traveling Overseas.

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Assistance to Foreign Nationals of Goan Origin in seeking PIO / OCI Card Status

Since January 2006, the Govt. of India has introduced Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme to Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain category who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh. For this purpose, Section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (Central Act 57 of 1955) was amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 (Central Act 32 of 2005), by introducing Sections 7A, 7B, 7C and 7D so as to provide for "Overseas Citizenship".

With the introduction of the OCI Scheme, the Government of India has granted the following rights to which persons registered as OCIs are entitled to :
1. Grant of multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India for any purpose;
2. Exemption from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India;
3. Parity with Non Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields, except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties; Vide Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Notification No. 26011/2/2005-IC-1 dated 11/04/2005
4. Parity with Non Resident Indians in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children;
5. Parity with resident Indian nationals in the matter of tariffs in air fares in domestic sectors in India;
6. Charging the same entry fee as Domestic Indian visitors to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India; Vide Government of India, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Notification No. 0I-16011/10/2006-DS dated 05/01/2007
7. Parity with Non Resident Indians in respect of,-
(a) entry fees to be charged for visiting the national
monuments, historical sites and museums in India; (b) pursuing the following professions in India, in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts, namely
(i) Doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists;
(ii) advocates;
(iii) architects;
(iv) chartered accountants;
8. To appear for the All India Pre - Medical Test or such other tests to make them eligible for admission in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts. Vide Government of India, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Notification No. OI-15013/13/2008-DS dated 05/01/2009
9. State Government should ensure that the OCI registration booklets of OCIs are treated as their identification for any services rendered to them. In case proof of residence is required, Overseas Citizens of India may give an affidavit attested by a notary public stating that a particular/specific address may be treated as their place of residence in India, and may also in their affidavit give their Overseas residential address as well as email address, if any. Vide Government of India, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Notification No. OI-15013/2/2010-DS dated 23/03/2012

Foreign nationals of Goan origin staying in Goa can now obtain Gas connection, Driving Licence and register their vehicles on the strength of their OCI Cards which would suffice as proof of their identity and proof of residence.

Circulars containing detailed guidelines for the benefit of Goan expatriates who have taken up foreign Citizenship and are interested in registering themselves as Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and the benefits / concessions available to them, have been issued by the NRI Commission on 07th March 2011, 07th June 2011 and 13th September 2012. The Commission has been providing assistance to foreign nationals of Goan origin who have problems in interpreting the rules.

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WELFARE / PENSION SCHEME FOR SEAFARERS

Quite a number of Goans have been employed as Seamen on Cruise Liners, Containers, Tankers, Cargo Vessels and Merchant Navy from time immemorial. Not all of them earn enough to sustain themselves in old age, and are often faced with innumerable hardships. Particularly those who are engaged on petty jobs like Painters, Loaders, Fitters, Oilmen and Deck Crew etc, are lowly paid, and consequently they hardly derive any significant pensionery benefits after they are laid off due to physical disabilities, or as the case may be, retirement age.

Against this background, the State Government has sanctioned a scheme called "The Goa Welfare / Pension Scheme for Seafarers, 2012" to provide financial assistance in the form of gross pension of Rs. 2,500/- per month to retired Goan Seamen on completion of 60 years of age who were employed on lowly paid jobs on board the ship and retired, including Seamen invalidated from sea service on medical grounds before retirement and widows of deceased seamen on compassionate grounds, provided the annual income from all sources does not exceed Rs. 1.20 lakhs. The Scheme is launched on 24.03.2013.

Press release

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Goa Migration Study 2008

The NRI Commission Goa, in association with the Union Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, had commissioned a study (i) to determine the magnitudes and dimensions of migration from Goa and return migration to Goa (ii) to assess the annual flow of household remittances to Goa from NRGs gainfully employed in foreign countries and estimate of such total remittances (iii) to study the socio-economic impact of migration on households (including women, children and elderly left behind) and understand the rehabilitation of return emigrants; (iv) to report on the trends and patterns of emigrants and return emigrants, cost of emigrants and use of remittances, preferred countries of destination and other emerging issues arising out of the survey; and (v) to study the impact of migration on social sectors such as education and health.

Some of the major findings of the "Goa Migration Study 2008", which has been released on 2nd June 2009, are as under:
(i) Goan emigrants are dispersed in 43 countries, about 56% in the Gulf region,13% in Europe, 11% in South and South East Asia, 10% in North America, and 7% account for those working on cruise liners and merchant ships.
(ii) 16% of households in Goa are estimated to have an emigrant or return emigrant, of which 20% account for females.
(iii) Total remittances to Goa from emigrants during 2008 were estimated at Rs.800 crores, including Rs.313 crores by households directly, of which 80% are used by emigrant families in Goa for their daily subsistence, educational expenses, medical treatment, debt re - payments etc.

This is the first scientific study of Goan migration ever. Goa is the second State after Kerala to have done such a study, which has not been done even at the national level.

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Constitution of Non-Resident Goans Emergency Repatriation Fund (NRGERF) for the benefit of NRGs in times of distress abroad.

Quite a number of Goans belonging to economically weaker sections of society are employed abroad, particularly in Gulf countries, in skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs. At times, some of them are either denied their lawful wages by unscrupulous employers for months together, or are forced to work at less wages than contracted, often compelling them to abandon their jobs in frustration.

Secondly, there are also cases of Goans who, after having been sent abroad by the recruiting agents in India, find themselves stranded on being refused or denied jobs by the employers, and often land up in jails.

Thirdly, in times of serious accidents or sudden illness, they have to be either admitted in hospitals in the host countries or rushed back to India for proper medical attention but do not have the financial resources to do so.

Fourthly, situations arise where a Goan worker dies abroad and the body is kept in the morgue and the employer refuses to extend any financial help, the next of kin back home is not monetarily sound enough to meet the cost of transportation of the mortal remains of the deceased.

Against this background, the Government has constitutd a fund entitled "Non-Resident Goans Emergency Repatriation Fund (NRGERF)" for the benefit NRGs in times of distress abroad so as to extend financial assistance for :-
a) Transportation of mortal remains of deceased NRGs to Goa in extremely deserving cases where the next of kin is unable to bear the cost of transportation, subject to expenditure ceiling of Rs. 5. lakhs.
b) Repatriation of NRGs faced with extreme serious medical condition, including due to accidents, where the next of kin is unable to meet the cost, subject to expenditure ceiling of Rs. 5.lakhs.
c) Repatriation of NRGs in distress due to loss of Jobs etc by bearing the cost of air fare to Goa, subject to expenditure ceiling of Rs. 1 lakh.

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Domicile Certificate

Domicile Certificate which was earlier mandatory for admission of children of NRGs to 10+2 stream in higher secondary schools in Goa, is no longer required. Instead, the Certificate of passing SSC or equivalent course in the concerned country needs to be countersigned / attested / authenticated by Indian Mission and produced while seeking admission in Goa.

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"GOA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME FOR DIASPORA CHILDREN (GSPDC)"

With a view to assist the children of NRIs and PIOs of Goan origin in pursuing higher and technical education in Professional and General courses in institutions affiliated to the Goa University or the Goa Board of Technical Education, the Department of NRI Affairs has instituted the "GOA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME FOR DIASPORA CHILDREN (GSPDC)" since academic year 2009-10. The scheme has come into operation with effect from 21st July 2009.

The above scholarship has been uploaded on website globalgoans.org.in so that interested NRGs / PIOs of Goan origin can access to the information booklet and the prescribed application form for submission within the stipulated time schedule.

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"My Village" Scheme

Goan expatriates gainfully employed in overseas countries have often expressed their desire to contribute to the development of their native areas where they were born or brought up or have their roots. Their contribution to the development process could be in any infrastructure project or scheme of public interest, which would either help in improving the living conditions of the community at large or provide the much needed facilities which the civic bodies are unable to provide basically due to lack of funds.

Against this background, the Department of NRI Affairs has formulated a scheme under the title "My Village Scheme" whereby the Goan expatriates may contribute to the development of project beneficial to the public at large in their native areas where they were born or brought up or have their roots. Details of the scheme are being finalised.

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