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I am an Indian national who has been working in Africa for 10 months. This stay in Africa is my first time leaving India. My passport has no previous stamps or marks in it. I recently had an emergency back at home and my boss kept refusing me a quick visit. I went back to India without his knowledge, and now he is asking for my passport. I can't let him see my back home visit on my passport. Should I glue the airline stamp pages together?

  • 216
    Do not glue anything in your passport and do not give your passport to anyone! This is not your boss right to refuse you leaving the country. Seek for a legal advice, not travel! – ThisIsMyName Jul 18 '17 at 17:35
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    Why is your boss asking for your passport? Is this a legal request? In most cases, it is not. – phoog Jul 18 '17 at 18:44
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    A boss who is unwilling to give you leave for a family emergency is not the kind of boss I would want to keep. Termination for insubordination might be a blessing in disguise here. – choster Jul 18 '17 at 18:53
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    How would gluing the passport even help? Surely your boss would notice. – Nate Eldredge Jul 19 '17 at 3:32
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    Offer your boss a certified copy of the picture page as proof of identity if he needs it for accounting, immigration, tax, other reasons. If he is not happy with that then there is potentially serious issues in your working conditions. – KalleMP Jul 19 '17 at 21:15

12 Answers 12

541
  1. Do not give your passport to your boss. You may not get it back; this is standard procedure for abusing domestic help or human trafficking.
  2. Contact your embassy for suggestions.
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    This is a well-documented means of abuse of Indians in Middle East. – Jesvin Jose Jul 20 '17 at 5:00
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    I wish I could +100 this my self, the only people that should ask for your your passport specifically should have a very valid, legal reason for doing it. That's not to say you can't use your passport as an ID, cause you usually can, but unless your working on a project that requires travel, or something there is almost no reason an employer should ask for a passport. Run away from this situation now, in fact report him to your embassy or other authorities. – coteyr Jul 20 '17 at 17:43
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    FYI and AFAIK, most passports remain the property of the issuing government (they essentially just lend them to their citizens). As such the only people normally allowed to force you to submit or surrender your passport are the relevant governments officials or officials of another government with which the issuing government has an agreement. Your passport is a valid form of ID if you need to prove your identity for some other reason, but you can do this by simply showing the ID page to those requesting the ID while holding it in your hands - you should never need to hand it over. – Toby Jul 21 '17 at 10:46
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    FWIW, in my country (the UK) there are various circumstances where an employer has a legal obligation to look at (but never hold onto) an employee's passport. And also any relevant work visa. This may also be the case in one or more African countries. So it's probably worth establishing what your employer means by "asking for your passport" before flat refusing, at least if you want to avoid losing your job because you failed to fulfil some bureaucratic record-keeping rules. That said, it seems likely this employer is planning to confiscate it. – Steve Jessop Jul 23 '17 at 0:58
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    @eykanal Google for something like "passport confiscation human trafficking", as the problem is not restricted to Indian nationals. That search gives, among others, the following, about Singapore. Foreign workers also reported confiscation of their passports, restrictions on their movement, illegal withholding of their pay, threats of forced repatriation without pay, and physical and sexual abuse—all indicators of potential trafficking. – Andrew Lazarus Jul 24 '17 at 19:47
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If you glue pages together in your passport you may as well throw it away.

No immigration official will ever accept it and you'll probably even have trouble going back home with it. "Trouble" as in you'll be pulled aside into a little room until they're satisfied you're not an illegal immigrant.
You may even be denied boarding by the airline if they notice that your passport looks suspicious.

The only people with any real authority to demand your passport are immigration and/or law enforcement officials.

Do NOT hand your original passport over to your boss.
The only legitimate information your employer might need from your passport would be a copy of the 'main' page with all of your details and the passport's issue/expiry dates and a copy of a visa page if you require a visa to work in that country.

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    Without knowing the country where this is happening and its laws, we don't actually know that "the only people with any real authority to demand your passport are immigration and/or law enforcement officials." For all we know, the country's laws might require the employer to hold or otherwise process the passports of its foreign employees. – phoog Jul 18 '17 at 18:45
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    @phoog Possibly a bit of a generalization, but IMO a safe one. Your passport isn't actually yours. It belongs to the government of your home country who issued it (probably another generalization, but certainly true for US, UK & others). I can't see that there'd be any legal way for any entity other than immigration/law-enforcement/other-government-body to take possession of a passport without the consent of the holder and/or issuing country. Your employer certainly wouldn't have such a right in any country which doesn't practice some sort of restriction on movement (Mid-East? North Korea?). – brhans Jul 18 '17 at 19:03
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez Jul 22 '17 at 15:48
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Some lines from my Indian passport (originally written in all caps):

CAUTION

This passport is the property of the Government of India.

It should be in the custody either of the holder or of a person authorised by the holder. It must not be altered or mutilated in any way.

In short, keep it safe and in your possession, do not tamper with it, and keep in mind that you do not own the passport, it belongs to your country.

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    This answers the tampering part, but not the question if OP should give it to his boss. Basically the boss is asking to become a "person authorised by the holder". – Some wandering yeti Jul 22 '17 at 12:09
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    @ptityeti Perhaps so, but the OP does not want or need to give it to the boss. That's settled. My answer was mainly telling the OP about the tampering part. Other answer have already addressed the other aspects of it. I do not wish to parrot them. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 12:11
  • @NVZ but the OP may be fired for failing to hand over the passport, and the text You have quoted doesn't change that. – phoog Jul 22 '17 at 20:28
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    @phoog Handing it over is strictly OP's prerogative. I'm not making OP's decision for them. I'm saying here what the passport says about itself. Other answers give better advice on what the OP should do about his boss. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 20:31
  • @phoog I don't know much about OP's country. In UAE, for example, passports, by law, should be with the individual. But employees willingly keep them in their company safes, and the company is required to give it back immediately when the employee asks for it. Companies are not allowed to "ask" for the passports themselves. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 20:34
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Don't dig a pit deeper than what it already is, just be honest and tell your boss I did undertake the trip. These cover up operations like the one you're thinking of have a habit of going from bad to worse.

Just remember that changing a bad boss is far easier than changing an intentionally altered passport

Getting in trouble with your boss might cause a temporary financial issue but getting in trouble with immigration might get you in jail (possibly in a foreign country)

Do not ever try to make any alterations to your passport whatsoever.

You might have another boss tomorrow and forget about the current one but once passport tampering is recorded on your immigration history it will stay with you for a long long time.

Boss is asking for passport, but it has a stamp in it I don't want him to see. What to do?

Sorry, I can not handover my passport to anyone except legal authorities.

Did you take the trip when I said no?

Yes I did, it was urgent and I had no other option. It did not impact my work.

Its these small fears that make people do things which are even worse than before and the pile keeps on growing until they are neck-deep in legal troubles.

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    "Just remember that changing a bad boss is far easier than changing a bad passport" ...is it? Not suggesting you do it, but I feel like you can "damage" or "lose" your passport so you can then request another one pretty easily... whereas changing your boss's personality or changing your job itself is kinda hard... – Mehrdad Jul 21 '17 at 6:19
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    I should have said than a forged/illegally altered passport :D – Hanky Panky Jul 21 '17 at 6:21
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    @HankyPanky: Can't you just "lose" it though? (Again, not suggesting it, but I feel like many people wouldn't bat an eye before doing this.) – Mehrdad Jul 21 '17 at 6:26
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    Saying this could cause only a "temporary financial issue" is an unreasonable assumption. We don't know how dire OP's financial situation is, and it is never guaranteed to be easy to find a new job. – user48037 Jul 21 '17 at 16:17
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    @Mehrdad It happens to a lot of people that their passport is taken away and they have no way to reach their embassy or otherwise get a new one. This is a fairly common scam and people have their lives ruined by it every day. – user35810 Jul 22 '17 at 20:34
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This smells like your boss is abusing you.

I advice to contact your embassy or directly I recommend to contact Minister of External Affairs of India (Sushma Swaraj). You can e-mail her or just tweet her. She would definitely help you, explain your situation.

She is the most responsive minster, there are many occasions like this, people have tweeted and she has solved it in no time.

Here is the contact details of Ministry of External Affairs of India.

Asking copy of passport for proof is different thing, but asking for a original passport is not the right thing to do. I hope this helps you and you will come out of this situation soon.

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    This is a neat solution. – Mad Physicist Jul 21 '17 at 19:11
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Don't glue anything! It will make your passport invalid. Also most passports have numbered pages, so no options to hide.

Also contact your lawyer or some other help. I don't believe that your boss can legally demand your passport

  • "I don't believe that your boss can legally demand your passport" ...they can legally demand proof of permission to work, which is generally the passport. – Mehrdad Jul 21 '17 at 6:21
  • I am telling, he should contact a lawyer. Over here in Estonia boss has right only to see my identity and only while first time taking me to work. And it even doesn't have to be a passport. It can be ID card, driving license or passport's front page only. Boss has no right according to law to demand anything else or look my passport through. Also I can show needed page from my hand without permission to look it all through. – Sapphire91140 Jul 21 '17 at 7:33
  • Also a copy of page signed by notary is valid. It could be also an option – Sapphire91140 Jul 21 '17 at 7:35
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    @Mehrdad Demanding proof of your permission to work and demanding to possess the proof of your permission to work are two entirely different things. You can just show him it, and if he says "I need to keep it" you say "no". Otherwise you can't leave the country without his permission. – bye Jul 21 '17 at 13:09
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    @Mehrdad They may do that, but they don't need to do it. If it's simply a matter of providing proof of permission to work, they can accept a photocopy of my passport or they can escort me to their photocopier and watch me photocopy it myself. There's zero reason they have to be physically in possession of my passport at any point in time. – Anthony Grist Jul 24 '17 at 14:21
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Make a color photocopy of the most important pages. That is, the ones with your photo and the details that he needs to see. Only show the copies to your boss. It's up to you if you want to let him keep them or not. You probably don't need to and you can destroy the copies after s/he has seen what they need to see.

You ought to be able to get color copies at a stationary shop (such as Staples here) or various other service centers. It should only cost you a few (4-5) dollars.

You never stated why your boss needs to see it and many (most) of the answers and comments here seem to have made certain assumptions about why. We don't really know. Maybe he just wants to verify some personal information. If your boss is not divulging those reasons, then the photocopies really ought to suffice. Then, you can leave it at that.

14

The advice others have given of not handing over your passport and potential abuse are very valid and should be adhered to.

But then this raises the question of how to maintain relations with your boss, how to refuse his illegitimate request.

I would say to give him a photocopy of the photo-ID part of your passport and of your work visa.

These are the only parts of your passport that an employer has a legitimate reason to need to see, on many occasions when working abroad I have had to give copies of these documents. Its fairly standard and often it is even a legal requirement for employment.

8

On the basis of the above answers, if your passport is taken without your consent or by coercion or social pressure you can't resist, and isn't immediately given back, take it seriously and go to police or your country's consulate if you don't get it back in minutes (and mean it, and do it).

Don't take chances or excuses, and don't let anyone else put off giving it back. Tell them if it's not in your hands in (X minutes, or once they've done whatever they do), then you'll be going to your consulate - and mean it. It's too serious to let people play with games. Anyone who takes a passport would know exactly what they're doing, so assume they have some intention or other and act accordingly.

  • While this in itself is good advise, it does not answer the question. – Willeke Jul 24 '17 at 15:13
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    @Willeke: "assume they have some intention or other and act accordingly..." answers the question, especially given the overall context. The poster just doesn't want to "come out and say it. – Tom Au Jul 27 '17 at 23:20
  • The question is not 'how to act is my passport is in the hands of someone who does not want to hand it back' but 'I have a stamp in my passport I do not want my boss to see' without the passport already being in his hands. – Willeke Jul 28 '17 at 19:03
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This is abuse for the reasons outlined above, even the request is very strange and sounds like abuse. You should contact your embassy and seek help.

That said, if you want to keep your current job - You can always get a new passport (without the stamp). I'm not sure why no one suggested it but it sounds like the most obvious situation.

  • In many (most?) cases, you have to return the old passport in order to get a new one. – gerrit Jul 24 '17 at 13:35
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    @gerrit why would that be a problem? OP can return their old passport and ask for a new one (which does not have the stamp). (And, it would force them to discuss the issue with their embassy) – Benjamin Gruenbaum Jul 24 '17 at 13:39
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    The boss would notice It's a new passport. How would you explain that to the boss without adding more lies to the pile? Such as: it was stolen, I lost it. – Enric Naval Jul 25 '17 at 7:39
  • @EnricNaval I'm actually almost never in favor of lying - I suggest you tell him "I got a new passport", it's none of his business if the old one expired or you didn't like your photo in it. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Jul 25 '17 at 7:40
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If there is a valid reason for your boss validating something in your passport, but a plausible reason to give why the rest is none of his business:

Maybe you and your boss could go to a notary or lawyer, who then handles the passport and confirms what needs confirming?

2

As others have pointed out, this is one of the ways that the rights of workers (from anywhere in the world) can be abused by having their passports confiscated. Before jumping to conclusions, you should ask your boss the reason he wants to see your passport. It might possibly be a mandated requirement that a company hiring a foreign worker needs to do their due diligence on them.

One solution to this that I couldn't see mentioned anywhere else (so apologies if it has), is to provide a scan of your passport instead. If it's for ID purposes, then the page with your photo ID and passport number is all your boss needs (the stamps are irrelevant). You will need to find an official who can witness and sign your scanned document to verify it is legitimate such as a notary public (or equivalent in the country you are in).

Given a passport is an extremely valuable document, ultimately I would recommend consulting your local embassy and asking them for advice. They would also be aware of any rules/regulations in the country you are in and tell you what is right and wrong. It is possible the embassy may also be able provide any required proof of identity/citizenship documents for your boss without needing to hand over your passport.

A passport is a serious legal document and damaging it by gluing it will immediately invalidate it, so DO NOT glue your passport.

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