Number of Nepalis in Portugal has doubled in one and half years

Portugal is becoming an attractive destination for Nepalis. Nepalis, who enter Europe through illegal channel, choose Portugal to legalize their status. Not only that, flow of Nepalis to Portugal is increasing as it is comparatively easier to get residence card there. Dilip Paudel of Republica talked to Makar Hamal, Honorary Consulate General of Nepal in Portugal, on the role of consulate office in promoting Nepal in Portugal and various other issues. Excerpts:

Could you please tell us about the activities that your office is carrying out in Portugal?

Besides establishing Nepali identity in Portugal, we are taking initiative for promotion of trade, commerce and tourism. We are also making efforts to resolve problems being faced by Nepali immigrants like employment, social security and other technical problems at a diplomatic level. We provide necessary consultations to Nepalis and also translate documents in Nepali language and certify them. We are also making efforts to expand bilateral and multilateral trade with Portugal.

What is the situation of Nepalis in Portugal?

There are more than 10,000 Nepalis in Portugal. The number has doubled in the past one and half years as it is very easy to get residence card here compared to other European countries. Nepalis are coming here even through illegal channels. Immigrants can get residence card very easily and can work legally within 6 months of applying for financial card. It takes around 10 years in other countries to get passport. In Portugal on can get passport after five years of becoming legal. Nepalis involved in business activities are settled. But financial condition of those who work for others is poor.

What is the possibility of Portugal becoming an employment destination for Nepalis?

We have seen sudden rise in the number of Nepalis in Portugal. That is why have been making to bring Nepalis for employment through legal channel. For this, we are continuously holding talks with recruitment academies and employer companies.

It is said that most of the Nepalis in Portugal are involved in menial jobs. Is it true?

It is true that many Nepalis are involved in difficult work. Most of the Nepalis are working in restaurant and agricultural sector. Around 100 Nepalis, who are settled here, have started their own restaurant, departmental stores and other businesses.

What efforts have been made to promote Nepal's tourism industry?

We have been conducting various programs to promote Nepal as a fascinating tourism destination for Portuguese. We promote natural attractions, mountains including Mt Everest, and Lumbini -- the birthplace of Buddha. We celebrate Buddha Jayanti here by organizing different programs. We have also been distributing promotional DVDs to Portuguese.

Have you made any attempt to bring investment from Portugal?

We have held several discussions with Portuguese businesspeople, industrialists and investors on the possibility of doing business in Nepal. Besides, we have also asked Non-Resident Nepalis to invest in Nepal. Some have already made investments in hydropower projects, hospitals and educational institutions.

Published 20 April 2015. Republica.