The ambassadors of several countries will tomorrow be briefed by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) on the procedural protocol that must be followed when processing the paperwork of expatriates seeking to avail themselves of an amnesty declared by the authorities last week.
The amnesty was announced on May 25 by the LMRA and Ministry of Interior. It is available to those who have overstayed their visit or employment visas and are seeking to leave the Kingdom. It follows and is an extension of the Easy Exit scheme which was initiated in February. The original scheme could only be availed of by those on work visas.
While the amnesty was formally announced last month at a press conference, it was yet to be officially introduced to the foreign missions in the Kingdom and embassy officials contacted by the
Bahrain Tribune said that they had not received any formal notifications about the new proceedures. They added however that the LMRA recently informed them that a meeting would be held with the ambassadors.
Rana Muhammad Rafique Khan, Committee Welfare Attache at the Pakistani Embassy, told the Tribune that although they have not received any official notification, the embassy has already begun accepting amnesty applications for all categories of visas. He added that the mission expects all the necessary information to be provided during the meeting tomorrow.
Commending the Easy Exit scheme and the subsequent pardoning of fines, Khan said that it is now the time for those residing illegally in the Kingdom to leave the country with dignity. “I request all my people to please approach the embassy for any assistance required to avail themselves of the pardon. I also urge them to stop working illegally and follow the law of the land.”
When contacted by the Tribune, the Bangladeshi Embassy said that they are still not accepting any more applications from nationals for the Easy Exit scheme. The Tribune earlier reported that the mission temporarily suspended the accepting of applications after being overwhelmed by the sheer number of nationals trying to leave the Kingdom. Over 1,300 applications were received by the embassy before it closed its Easy Exit counter.
Muhammed Ibrahim, First Secretary at the Bangladesh Embassy, yesterday said that there is a backlog of around 300 amnesty applications from people who had overstayed their visit visas. “Once the backlog is cleared we will resume accepting the applications,” he said.
Ali Radhi, CEO of LMRA, earlier told the Tribune that while there were unexpected delays in the initial stages of the Easy Exit scheme, these had been ironed out and the paperwork is expected to move faster. He attributed the delays to the time required to calculate fines for the applicants.
However, with the amnesty absolving all accumulated fines and applying a standard fine for all applicants the process is expected to be expedited. Those who have overstayed a visit visa will be fined BD25, while those on an expired employment visa are being charged BD15.