Most overseas migration from Nepal, including to the Gulf, is facilitated by private recruitment agencies. Nepal has a complex and highly centralized licensing operation, and recently introduced measures to improve transparency. Most licensed recruitment agencies are headquartered in Kathmandu - there are only branch offices outside the capital in four of Nepal’s 75 districts. The concentration of agencies in the capital and other major cities, as well as Nepal’s mountainous and rugged terrain, which makes travel difficult, means both licensed agencies and aspiring migrants across Nepal use the services of intermediaries, in the form of individual local ‘agents’, ‘sub-agents’ and ‘brokers’, the vast majority of whom are unlicensed. The government has recently banned agencies from using sub-agents, requiring them to establish branch offices instead, but in practice, these informal, unregistered local actors remain deeply embedded in Nepal’s recruitment processes. These intermediaries are often fundamental to Nepali workers’ decisions to migrate. They often deceive prospective migrant workers over the terms and conditions of employment abroad and negotiate recruitment fee payments. Despite this, many migrants trust unlicensed agents in their communities more than they trust licensed agencies in Kathmandu. Elements of Nepal’s licensing system that prioritise the mobilisation of large numbers of workers for foreign jobs make it difficult for ethical business models of recruitment to thrive.
Kuwait does not have a specific private sector recruitment industry licensing and certification scheme, except in relation to domestic workers, where the regulations have been strengthened since 2015 in response to international concerns about abuse of migrant workers and domestic concerns about agencies exploiting Kuwait employers, including with high fees. There are no explicit fair recruitment requirements imposed on recruiters as part of the licensing process. There is no transparent process for monitoring the legal status and practice of recruitment agencies, and CSOs have as a result tried to encourage recruitment agencies to self-certify as ethical.