By SOMAN BABY
NINETY-FOUR per cent of visas for expatriate workers are being processed within the 10-day target, says the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA). It has issued 11,800 work visas a month since taking over responsibility for the private sector from the Labour Ministry, last July.
The figures were revealed at a Press conference given by chief executive Ali Radhi and Interior Ministry assistant under-secretary for nationality, passports and residence Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa, at the LMRA headquarters, Sanabis yesterday.
“More than 70,000 visas were issued during July- December last year, of which 60,000 were work visas and 12,000 family visas,” they said.
“Generally, we were able to process 94pc of the applications within the 10-day target – three days at the LMRA, two at Central Informatics Organisation, and five at the GDNPR.”
Mr Radhi said the LMRA started issuing work visas for expatriates in the government in January last year and for the private sector in July. Since then 77,402 visas have been issued.
The LMRA and the GDNPR initially gave employers until last December to obtain residence permits (RP) for expatriate staff who had entered Bahrain through the old system, via the ministry and the GDNPR, but this has been extended.
“About 60,000 permits were issued by the ministry (last year) before the LMRA took over the responsibility,” Mr Radhi said.
“About 15,000 permits have expired and 8,000 are still valid. They have time till March 31 to obtain RPs.
“We have given enough grace period for employers and we expect them to comply with the regulations.”
He urged business owners to renew any expired passports of their expatriate staff, to enable them to obtain the remaining period of the RP from the GDNPR before March 31.
“Employers must also ensure that all expatriate family members who are residents are registered under the same Commercial Register (CR).
“If not, they should visit the GDNPR and correct the status by transferring all family members to the same CR (and branch) that the expatriate is working at.”
If a business owner wants to apply for a new work visa for an expatriate who has entered Bahrain on a tourist visa, the visa should be valid for more than two weeks before submitting the application, he said.
In this case, the expatriate should not have been in Bahrain for more than one month.
“For those who fail to update their expatriate records before March 31, the LMRA and the GDNPR will not be responsible for any delays in processing their transactions,” said Mr Radhi.
Shaikh Ahmed said the RP should be valid if an employee wants to go under the sponsorship of another employer.
“If the RP is cancelled, they have to leave the country but are free to return anytime without a no-objection from the previous employer.”