By ANIQA HAIDER , Posted on » Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A Filipino worker has been repatriated after overstaying his Bahrain work visa by nine years.The man was allowed to leave without paying huge immigration penalties and serving any time in prison thanks to the government’s Easy Exit scheme.
He reportedly arrived in Bahrain in May 1999 and refused to return to the Philippines after his work contract as a machine cutter ended.
The worker managed to find work with several companies, but failed to legalise his visa status.
“While he was allowed to work with some companies, he never got to secure the transfer of his visa sponsorship,” said Philippines Embassy sources.
The embassy assisted the worker to take advantage of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority’s (LMRA) scheme and made representations to Labour Ministry and immigration authorities to help with his repatriation.
“Under the scheme, he was only made to pay a minimal amount of BD15 as penalty for his nine years of overstaying, instead of the regular penalty fee which would have been BD180,” added the sources, who declined to revealed his name or personal details.
The embassy also issued an out-pass in lieu of the worker’s lost passport to enable him to leave the country.
The Easy Exit scheme was launched in May in an attempt to reduce the number of expatriates working in Bahrain illegally.
It gives workers whose visas have expired the chance without paying accumulated fines and penalties.
Instead, those who overstay their visa can return home after paying a fine of BD15, while those who overstay visit visas can go after paying BD25.
An estimated 43,000 expatriates are living in Bahrain illegally, but authorities hope the scheme can help eliminate the problem.