Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)

Started in 2009, the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) is meant for overseas Indian nationals during their time of need. The ICWF selects the most eligible for aid. The ICWF has also been a major factor in the evacuation of Indians during emergencies from zones of conflict, the effects of natural disasters, and other such tumultuous occurrences. This article explains how the Indian community welfare fund (ICWF) functions.

Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)
Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF)

Indian missions and posts abroad are all connected with the ICW. The following are the new guidelines: 

The ICWF guidelines have been widened to expand the welfare measures that can be taken by the fund. These guideline revisions have come into effect since September 1st, 2017 when the union cabinet approved them. These changes are to allow Indian missions and posts with increased ability to respond to overseas Indian nationals. The three main areas that the revised guidelines target are:

  • Helping overseas Indian nationals in emergencies 
  • Community welfare activity support
  • Consular service improvement

Helping Overseas Indian Nationals in Emergencies 

  • Board and lodge for eligible Indian nationals in an emergency situation. This is provided by the missionary, post, or NGOs working with the mission.
  • Airfare to India for overseas Indian nationals in an emergency situation.
  • Legal assistance for eligible overseas Indian nationals who may have committed minor crimes or offenses. This is also for those who may have been falsely implicated by their employers and are serving time in jail. It is for fishermen, seamen, sailors, and Indian students in the case of an emergency, as well.
  • Legal and financial assistance for Indian women who may have been abandoned, cheated on, or abused by their NRI, PIO, or foreign spouses. This is for a maximum of seven years after marriage. 
  • Small fine and penalty payments for overseas Indian nationals who may have committed minor offenses or crimes. This could be for illegal stay in a foreign country, where it appears that the Indian national is not at fault. This is to allow Indian nationals to be released from jail or a detention center. 
  • Expenditure for and transportation of the body of the deceased Indian national to India or to a local cremation or burial ground. This is in cases where the employer, sponsor, or insurance company does not have to do so by contract and the family is unable to provide the necessary funds. 
  • Medical care in emergencies for eligible overseas Indians who have suffered an accident and have life-threatening injuries, have life-threatening medical conditions, or have a disability of a serious nature.

Community Welfare Activity Support

If funds are available Indian missions and posts may fund Indian community activities such as the following:

  • Promotional cultural programs by well-known Indian diaspora organizations at prominent Indian festivals and on the national days of India. This is also for programs by well-known local or Indian artists from India. 
  • Payment for teachers and faculty that teach Indian languages and art forms. Organization of an annual day for Indian students at universities and other educational institutions. This is to allow students to discuss issues and topics such as their visa, residence status, work permit, financial queries, welfare, and other such issues. 

Consular Service Improvement 

Indian missions and posts overseas can fund administrative expenses if the budget permits. This includes:

  • The hiring of additional staff for consular service positions
  • Renting vehicles as needed for visits to jails, police stations, detention centers, labor camps, welfare camps, shelters, prisons, hospitals, morgues, and airports for the deportation or repatriation of Indian nationals in distress. 
  • Hiring local interpreters as needed during consular visits
  • Manage the design, publication, and translation costs of the mission or post flyers regarding local labor laws and details about employment for Indians in the foreign country
  • Organization of labor camps or consular camps to interact with Indian migrant workers. Informing workers about overseas employment issues, labor laws, welfare, and protection efforts by the government. 
  • Creation of 24/7 toll-free helplines and walk-in resource centers for access to information, advice, and guidance for Indian nationals in a state of distress. Assisting Indian nationals to register their issues with the mission or post. 
  • E-governance solutions and applications to solve consular issues. 

ICWF Guidelines

  • The funds of the ICWF can only be used to help Indian citizens living in or visiting a foreign country. A Person of Indian origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cannot receive individual financial assistance from the ICWF. 
  • The eligibility of the Indian national must be assessed by an officer. The officer must approve the ICWF expenditure amount. 
  • Usually, in order to receive the funds of the ICWF, the Indian national would have had to enter the foreign country legally. There may be exceptions when the head of the mission or post decides that the particular case requires assistance. 

Passport Record of ICWF Assistance

A record must be made in the passport of an Indian national who has received ICWF assistance. The relevant database must also keep this record. 

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What is the full form of ICWF?

Indian community welfare fund.

Who can the funds of the ICWF be used for?

It can be used for Indian nationals that require immediate assistance in a foreign country.

What assistance does the ICWF provide for Indian women abroad regarding their marriages?

The ICWF provides legal and financial assistance for Indian women who may have been abandoned, cheated on, or abused by their NRI, PIO, or foreign spouses. This is for a maximum of seven years after marriage.

How are ICWF funds allocated?

The eligibility of the Indian national must be assessed by an officer. The officer must approve the ICWF expenditure amount.

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