Over a thousand people converged on the Bangladesh Embassy yesterday to avail of the Easy Exit scheme for illegal residents.Staff at the mission were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people seeking help and were eventually able to process only around 500 individuals. 300 applicants who did not have a CPR or passport with them were been asked to come back on Saturday.
“Representatives from the the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) will be on hand on the day with n/card machines and will attempt to determine and confirm the identities of those who do not have any identification documents,” Muhammed Ibrahim, first secretary of the embassy told the Bahrain Tribune.
While the success of this process hinges on the hope that the men have submitted their fingerprints, digital signatures and other information to the LMRA, Ibrahim said that it would expedite the process of those who had done so.
The 500 applications that were accepted yesterday with CPR and passport copies attached will be sent to the LMRA on Wednesday and Thursday to be cleared and given a clean chit to travel by the authorities concerned, he added.
In addition, over 200 individuals who said that their passports are with their employers were advised to go to them and ask for the passport back before applying for Easy Exit.
The mission has made arrangements with the LMRA to attend to Easy Exit applicants whose documents have been processed by the embassy on Wednesday and Thursday. The embassy itself accepts applications for the Easy Exit only on Sunday and Monday of every week.
Last week, they received around 250 applications of which the LMRA has reportedly cleared 176. The balance is expected to be done in 7-10 days after completing certain formalities.
The Easy Exit scheme is a partial amnesty by the Government of Bahrain for people who are residing in the Kingdom on expired visas, including visit visa and all types of employment visas. It is only available to those who want to leave the Kingdom. The scheme waives any accumulated fines and allows illegal residents to leave the country by paying a nominal BD25 or BD15 fee for visit and employment visas respectively.
The Easy Exit was announced in February and was initially available only to those on employment visas. On May 25, it was extended to all types of visas.
Recently, however, LMRA CEO Ali Radhi had said that because of a poor turnout of applicants the scheme was in jeopardy and could be rolled back by authorities which oversee the process.
It remains to be seen if the turnout at the Bangladesh Embassy yesterday will give renewed purpose to the scheme. Ibrahim said that he expects similar numbers to come to the embassy today to apply for Easy Exit.