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Be aware of the dangers of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling of migrants

Travelling without a visa or work permit or other legal documents or crossing the borders in an irregular way is a bad decision.  If you do not have all the legal documents you need for travelling abroad, you are putting yourself under big risk. If you cross borders without having a visa for the country you are entering, you are breaking the law.

Be careful!

There are criminal groups or intermediaries/agents operating and taking advantage of people who decide to travel illegally. If you seek help from such intermediaries or agents who sell information, services and documents to go abroad, you may not only go into debt on very harsh conditions. But very often you are also not told the truth and may end up in violent or exploitative situations.

Criminal groups or intermediaries may also promise a job or another good opportunity abroad. If this looks too good to be true, then it is not true. Migrants and refugees are especially vulnerable to trafficking in persons, a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labor and sexual exploitation.  

Be vigilant!

These criminal groups can charge you a lot of money for your travel and may also put you under life threatening risks during the journey abroad. You may also not arrive at the agreed destination.

Other situations that can put you at risk

Even if you travel legally to another country but then overstay your visa or work permit, this makes you an irregular migrant. Remember that you will always be in a vulnerable situation without proper documentation or legal permit to stay in a foreign country.

We have dedicated staff at the Migrant Resource Centre who can help you through your decision making process. You can discuss your plans and the MRC counsellors will provide you with all the information you need – in a personal session at the MRC or via Hotline, WhatsApp, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Facebook and Twitter.

Our counselling is free-of-charge and strictly confidential.

We will tailor the information to your needs!

Call us on +92-304-1112123 and visit our offices in Islamabad and Lahore to find out more.

Irregular Migration

  • No universal definition
  • Irregular migration – Movement of persons that takes place outside the laws, regulations, or international agreements governing the entry into or exit from the State of origin, transit or destination.
  • Sending country/Country of Origin, the irregularity is seen in cases in which a person crosses an international boundary without a valid passport or travel document or does not fulfil the administrative requirements for leaving the country.
  • Destination country: it is entry, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorisation or documents required under immigration regulations.

People who…

Through (means)

Have entered the country illegally

Avoid migration inspection

Have entered a country on false documents

Use of forged documents or visa

Have broken visa conditions

Overstaying or working without permit

Are not in possession of their papers

Missing/stolen/lost/taken passport

Have failed to leave after a negative asylum decision

Staying after negative asylum decision by host country

Are born into irregularity

Being born to an irregular migrant

Were smuggled into a country

Entering a state illegally.

Are victims of human trafficking

Trafficked into the country

Human Trafficking

On the basis of the definition given in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, it is evident that trafficking in persons has three constituent elements;

The Act (What is done): Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.

The Means (How it is done): Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim.

The Purpose (Why it is done): For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

To ascertain whether a particular circumstance constitutes trafficking in persons, consider the definition of trafficking in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the constituent elements of the offense, as defined by relevant domestic legislation.

Criminalisation of human trafficking

Pakistan has taken important legislative steps to combat these crimes, including the promulgation of "The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018" and "The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act, 2018". These laws empower the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan to effectively prosecute the organised criminal groups perpetuating and benefitting from these crimes, while providing safeguards to the rights of victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants.

Definition of trafficking in human beings (THB) and smuggling of migrants (SOM) According to the, Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2018 and the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act 2018


Smuggling of Migrants

Trafficking in Persons

Type of Crime

Against the State

Violation of human rights of person

Why do we fight it

To protect State Sovereignty

To protect rights of individuals

Relationship between parties involved

Commercial relationship b/w smuggler and migrant

Ends after reaching destination.

Exploitative relationship b/w Trafficker and Victim.

Exploitation Continues for Profit.


Organized Movement of Persons for Profit

Organized recruitment/transport and continuous exploitation of the victim.

Illegal border crossing

Illegal border crossing is key element – Transnationality

Border crossing (legal or illegal) not required/part of the definition i.e. THB can be within a country as well.


Migrant consents to illegal border crossing

Either no consent or initial consent is made irrelevant due to force, deception, coercion at any stage.

Human Trafficking in person

Trafficking in persons is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. According to Trafficking in person Act, 2018 Human Trafficking in Persons is defined as, "Any person who recruits, harbors, transports, provide or obtain another person, or attempts to do so, for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion, commits an offence of trafficking in person ."Human trafficking provides high monetary gains. It is the third largest source of organized crime revenue

Smuggling of migrants:

Smuggling of migrants involves the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. According to the prevention of smuggling of migrant Act, 2018,Smuggling of migrant Act is defined as, “the facilitation, for benefits,of illegal entry of another person who is a foreigner, into Pakistan or from Pakistan into a country of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident, or is a citizen of Pakistan into another country of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident."

Trafficking in persons vs. Smuggling of migrants


Awareness raising and information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration in Pakistan (PARIM) - ICMPD

National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling for Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Pakistan

Do's and Don'ts for safe migration English Flyer

Do's and Don'ts for safe migration Urdu Flyer