Visa postponement for Bangladeshis
Visa misuse prompts Oman take the decision
At least 300,000 workers have gone to Oman from Bangladesh in the last two years. But the employment situation for the expatriate workers in the Middle Eastern country is not in a good state now. As many Bangladeshis who went there spending several lakhs of taka are not getting suitable work, they are forced to take up jobs that are deemed illegal. In this context, Oman has postponed issuing all kinds of visas to Bangladeshis to stop the misuse of visa, said diplomatic sources.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) stopped issuing visas to Bangladeshis from Tuesday. The ROP within its review of the policies for obtaining several types of visas, also announced the suspension of the conversion of all types of tourist and visit visas to work visas for all nationalities coming to the Sultanate of Oman, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
The ROP authorities, however, did not disclose the reason as of Wednesday.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Oman Nazmul Islam is likely to discuss the matter with Oman authorities today, Thursday.
Human traffickers abused the scope that was available to send people to Oman. Maybe that’s why Oman has stopped issuing visas
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said, “Human traffickers abused the scope that was available to send people to Oman. Maybe that’s why Oman has stopped issuing visas. Bangladeshi workers have been working in the country for a long time. They (Oman) will be requested to reconsider the decision taking this into consideration. The ambassador has been given necessary orders in this regard.”
A statement of the Royal Oman Police announced the suspension of the conversion of all types of tourist and visit visas to work visas for all nationalities coming to the Sultanate of Oman. Earlier, foreigners could convert tourist and visit visas to work visas entering the country. But following the latest development, those who want to have a work visa will have to return to their home country and apply for work visas. But this opportunity will not be applicable to the Bangladeshis since issuing of all types of visas to Bangladeshis has been postponed until any further notice.
At least 110,000 Bangladeshis have gone to Oman in the first 10 months this year, said sources from the Bangladesh Mission in Oman.
At present, nearly 800,000 of the 2 million foreign workers in the country are Bangladeshis, which is the highest number of foreigners working in Oman .
Speaking about visa misuse, a source from Oman told Prothom Alo that recently Oman authorities gave an approval to employ five workers by each youth in the country. Human traffickers have been misusing the opportunity. The people of Bangladesh are being taken to Oman without even checking whether they have got any job there or not. Those people are sometimes not getting any jobs, let alone the offered job in the country. As a result, those Bangladeshis are getting involved in jobs that are not legal while some are being involved in unethical activities. All of these have made the Oman authorities unhappy with the Bangladeshi workers.
Speaking about human trafficking, another source said for a few months the issue of making arrests of Bangladeshis, who fell in traps of the traffickers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), off the coasts of Oman is being talked about informally. Oman authorities have also been raising the issue to the Bangladesh authorities for the last few months.
It is learned that small vessels are used to transport oil from Iran to the UAE. Those vessels transport various goods while returning to Iran. The traffickers carry people in the vessels luring them to head to Europe.
Oman coast guard has enhanced surveillance of such vessels for the last few months and detained people from those. A large number of the detainees are Bangladeshis.
A source from Oman said though the authorities in Oman did not explain the reason for postponing the issuance of visas formally, the country’s steps clearly states that misuse was the reason for taking such a step.
The remittance will be affected if an important manpower market like Oman is closed for the Bangladeshis, apprehended the experts.
Speaking about the issue, Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank office in Bangladesh told Prothom Alo on Wednesday, “Expatriate workers who went to Oman before will send remittances even if the new workers cannot go there. But this step will kill the opportunity of more remittance if new workers could go to the country.”
* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza