By SOMAN BABY
MORE than 40 per cent of applications for work visas submitted to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) last month were rejected, it was revealed yesterday.
During its first month of operations, the LMRA issued 423 work visas, said LMRA e-services and public relations manager Waheed Al Balushi.
“A total of 299 applications were rejected, mainly for lack of information,” he told the GDN.
“Applications submitted by companies which failed to cleanse the data of their expat workers with LMRA were also rejected.
“Applications for visas for workers whose residence permit had expired for more than a month were also not approved.”
Mr Al Balushi said 423 work visas a month was a low figure.”As this was the first month of LMRA’s operations after it took over the responsibility of issuing work visas, many employers were not aware of the procedures involved,” he added.
“The whole concept of work visa – not work permit – is new, and people are still learning it.
“Once people understand the procedures, they are very happy.”
Mr Al Balushi said the LMRA has opened an exclusive office to deal with its “key accounts”.
“The financial sector, mainly banks and insurance companies, belongs to this group,” he revealed.
“Major national companies and large employers are also listed in the key accounts category.”
Mr Al Balushi said the financial sector always enjoyed certain privileges in recruiting foreign employees, as part of a strategic decision taken by the government.
“The LMRA will also accord those privileges to this sector. The new office is located on the fifth floor of the LMRA premises in Sanabis,” he added.
Mr Al Balushi said only 30 pc of the applications were submitted online.
“Clearing agents and company representatives are still being trained at LMRA in the use of its online services,” he added.
“We want the majority of the companies in Bahrain to use our online services. It will help save time and avoid rush at LMRA counters.”
Mr Al Balushi said local transfer is allowed if the old sponsor cancels the visa and the new sponsor manages to get a new work visa for the applicant within 30 days.
“The applicant who fails to join a new employer after cancelling his visa within 30 days should leave the country,” he noted.
The LMRA grants temporary work visas for six months, renewable once only for a further six months, for some specific jobs, said Mr Al Balushi.