Customer Service Office, NLC

46,926 provisional land certificates were issued for visa processing this year

There have been various attempts to quantify the Australia rush from the numbers of civil servants who have resigned, to those sitting for IELTS, to those applying for passports.

However, another figure to calculate comes in terms of the record number of Provisional Land Certificates issued from 1 January to 15 December 2022 for visa processing.

In 2022, a total of 46,926 provisional land certificates were issued. The certificate is one of the essential documents to show that you or your immediate family has land assets in Bhutan, while applying for foreign visas like to Australia.

This, along with the bank statement, is a way of checking if a visa applicant is a genuine student or an economic migrant who may not return.

Given that the figures from 15 December onwards is yet to be added the total number for the year could be close to 50,000 certificates.

In 2021 there were only 1,412 certificates issued, but this was due to the pandemic.

A source clarified that 46,926 certificates does not mean the same number of people applying, as one certificate is issued against one plot and so a person could be holding multiple plots under one Thram. The plots could also belong to his parents and other immediate family.

The source said that earlier one certificate was issued against one Thram, but it was only towards the end of 2020 that the National Land Commission (NLC) started giving lagthrams even for individual plots and even apartments under the same Thram.

 In 2020, 1,902 certificates were issued due to the pandemic.

In 2019 a total of 4,281 certificates were issued, but these were against Thrams and not plots.

In the data it is interesting to note that the rush for certificates started after 2016 onwards as pointed out by earlier stories in this paper on the Australia rush.

In 2015 there were 37 certificates, in 2016 it was 13 and in 2017 it suddenly spiked to 868 certificates followed by 2,323 in 2018.

The high figures in 2022 are in part due to the backlog of 2020 and 2021 when people could not travel, but the high figures of 2022 shows a huge push to apply for foreign visas.

Within the 2022 year’s data on provisional land certificates one gets an idea of how the rush played out during the year. 

In the year 2022, the highest number of land certificates were issued in July at 11,683 and this month not only coincides with the July intake in Australia, but also the teachers’ mid year break. This means a large number of teachers had applied.

In 2022 the trend picked up slowly in January with 183 and in February with 121 which were lockdown months and from March it started picking up as relaxations were implemented with 679 certificates.

This jumped to 745 in April, 2,054 in May, 3,025 in June, 11,683 in July, 6,882 in August, 5,695 in September, 4,447 in October, 7,511 in November and 3,901 till 15 December.

The high numbers above cannot be just explained in terms of civil servant resigning and going as the data for 2022 for civil servants’ voluntary resignation is 1,488 which is higher compared to 2021 at 892 who resigned, but still not high enough to explain the numbers.

It seems that a large portion of the people heading to Australia are young college graduates and even some class 12 pass outs. They would be using the land certificates for plots either registered in their names or of their immediate family.

The large numbers of youths leaving is visible in the reduced job applications for RCSC or even other vacancies.

There are also people from the private sector with no connection to the government and people from corporations.

If one looks at the passports issued in 2022 up to 15 December it is 30,171 and counting compared to 8,561 passports in 2021, 3,713 passports in 2020, 16,769 passports in 2019 and 15,606 passports in 2018.

Another recent data to look at is the Nu 8 bn in special educations loans that around 1,800 applicants took from BoB, BNB and DrukPNB within a short period of less than two months.

In the longer term from 2005-06 financial year to 2021-22 financial year Australia granted 20,522 mainly education visas to Bhutanese with the numbers only going up.

The large number of land certificates indicate that there will be again large numbers leaving in 2023 too as many seem to have started preparations in 2022 itself.   

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