PUTRAJAYA: Thousands of local employers and their foreign workers without permits (Pati) swarmed the Immigration Department here today for last-minute applications for the Enforcement Card (E-Card).

Prospective registrants began gathering in front of the Immigration Department building as early 6am to get their E-Cards, as the deadline for applications ends at midnight on Friday, June 30.

Pati were seen arriving at the department in buses and vans to apply for the E-Cards.

Immigration Department's Foreign Workers Division director Datuk Khairul Khar Yahya said the surge of employers and immigrants more than doubled from yesterday.

"We received more than 3,500 applications until yesterday, when the capacity of processing was only 1,500 daily.

"As a matter of fact, the department had to (keep) the counters open until 3am yesterday to cater to the high number applicants," he added.

The E-card programme was introduced to meet the high demand for foreign workers by employers to address labour shortages in several key economic sectors in peninsular Malaysia.

The card will give illegal workers validity until Feb 15 next year.

Khairul said the department’s office hours for E-Card applications have been extended to midnight for today and tomorrow.

He added that yesterday alone, the department processed applications from 1,105 employers and 5,852 illegal foreign workers.

Khairul said among the problems faced by the department’s officers is determining the validity of documents, some of which are forgeries.

"The application process was taking longer than usual (yesterday) because our officers found several suspicious applications.

"We believe some of them here had forged their documents to escape from paying the levy," he added.

From Feb 15 until yesterday, the department received applications from 25,670 employers and 150,821 Pati – and 135,944 E-Cards have been issued since then.

Last week, Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali expressed disappointment over the "lackadaisical attitude" of employers in applying for the card for their illegal workers.

He stressed that the June 30 deadline will not be extended and warned employers that the department will launch a manhunt for illegal immigrants beginning July 1, nationwide.

Khairul said that after the deadline ends on Friday, the department will conduct its nationwide sweep for Pati starting from midnight on Saturday.

"We have identified the places (to search) and we will move as soon as the clock ticks past midnight," he told reporters today.

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Local employers and foreign workers without permits seen lining up at the Immigration Department building in Putrajaya for last-minute applications for the Enforcement Card (E-Card). Pix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR.
The Immigration Department building in Putrajaya was packed as applicants waited for their turn. ix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR.