Written by: Sandeep Singh Grewal
AROUND 16,000 illegal residents have found legitimate jobs in Bahrain since a six-month amnesty began on July 1, it has emerged. New figures were announced yesterday by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), which said most of those who legalised their stay were Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis.
It revealed 15,937 illegal residents had gained legitimate work.
According to LMRA sources 2,737 of them had previously run away from their employers.
Another 4,569 have chosen to leave the country since the amnesty came into effect, they said.
It means a total of 20,506 expatriates, who were previously living illegally in Bahrain, have benefited from the amnesty, either by finding legitimate jobs or returning home.
The amnesty, which continues until the end of December, allows illegal expatriate residents to return home or legalise their stay without being punished for residency offences.
It is targeting an estimated 60,000 illegal residents in Bahrain, many of whom either ran away from their employers or overstayed their visas.
“It is a big achievement for us during the past four months as many workers have benefited from the amnesty – with the top three nationals being from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan,” said LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi, “The LMRA will try its level best to help employers recruit these illegal workers during the amnesty and would like to advise people that working without a proper work permit is a violation of the law.”
Of those who decided to leave Bahrain since the start of the amnesty, 2,651 were Bangladeshis, 1,021 were Indians and 628 were Pakistanis, the sources said.
Others who left included 105 from the Philippines, 83 from Yemen, 45 from Sri Lanka, 34 from Nepal, 32 from Egypt, 36 from Jordan and 25 from Sudan.
Meanwhile, of those who found legitimate employment 10,785 were Bangladeshis, 2,408 were Indians and 1,583 were Pakistanis.
Mr Al Absi said he expected even more people to take advantage of the amnesty before it ends on December 31.
He also urged workers who wanted to return home, but whose passports had been confiscated by their employers, to immediately contact their embassies, which would issue emergency certificates to allow them to leave the country.
“We need the support of individuals and institutions to deal with irregular workers as it negatively affects the labour market and the economy,” he added.
“The amnesty was launched in July to correct this situation and we informed diplomats and the media about the six-month grace period.”
He revealed the LMRA had distributed thousands of brochures in 15 different languages explaining the amnesty guidelines.
In addition, more than one million text messages have been sent to expats registered in its database.
“All legal measures will be taken when the amnesty period ends in December and those who are caught after that will be punished according to the law without leniency,” he warned.
Illegal foreign residents who have court cases against them – including travel bans for outstanding debts – are not covered by the amnesty.
Neither are foreigners who overstayed visit visas.
For more information, contact the LMRA call centre on 17506055.