A nationwide operation involving stringent immigration document checks and random inspections will be carried out as part of a concerted effort to address the significant issue of undocumented migrants, Maldives Immigration has announced.

This operation forms part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at swiftly resolving the issue of undocumented migrants. As part of the operation, immigration officials will conduct thorough inspections of migrant workers’ work visas and identification documents. Those found in violation of immigration laws will face immediate action, while the agency also plans to work towards regularising the status of undocumented migrant workers.

“The operation’s primary objective is to decrease the number of undocumented migrant workers and ensure all migrant workers operate within the confines of immigration laws and guidelines,” the agency said in a statement. The agency also intends to foster a collaborative approach to this operation, involving all government offices and agencies, embassies in the Maldives, residents, and relevant agencies.

The United Nations reports that the Maldives has the largest proportional population of migrants in South Asia, constituting approximately one-third of the resident population. A significant percentage of these migrants are undocumented and face a myriad of challenges, including discrimination, rights violations, wage theft, passport confiscation, and unsafe living and working conditions.

The administration of former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also undertook measures to address this issue, implementing regularisation and a voluntary repatriation programme specifically targeting undocumented migrant workers. The voluntary repatriation programme was established to assist migrant workers with expired work visas or employment approvals who expressed a desire to return to their home countries.