This reflects an increased global focus on human rights in the migration process and a growing sensitivity among the Nepali public to the treatment of their compatriots abroad. However regulation of the influential recruitment industry, which maintains close relationships with political parties, is a major challenge, given the rampant abuse of migrant workers and the intense competition - between recruiters and with other origin states - for jobs in wealthy destination countries. On top of these challenges international bodies have criticised the lack of coordination between the numerous ministries and committees managing migration policy, exacerbated by political instability, frequent changes in government and a high turn-over of labour ministers over the past decade.
The Arab Gulf states are a major destination for Nepalis. In 2017/2018, Kuwait hosted 5% of all Nepali workers migrating to countries other than India, with workers in Kuwait sending home US$150m in remittances. Kuwait has among the world’s highest GDP per capita, and migrant workers, mainly from South Asia, make up more than two-thirds of Kuwait’s total population, the majority working in low-paid private sector jobs and as domestic workers. Kuwaiti government policy, termed “Kuwaitisation”, is to reduce this imbalance, and ideally to reverse it, whilst at the same time still developing the construction and hospitality sectors which rely on that very same workforce - with Kuwaiti nationals largely reluctant to take up the lower-paid, stigmatised, jobs in the private sector. This gap between official migration policy and actual labour market demand has contributed to irregular migration and visa overstays, as well as “visa trading” – whereby workers in migrant countries buy visas, either from recruiters in Kuwait or in the origin country.