Amnesty-seekers throng Bangladesh Consulate
Dubai: Tens of thousands Illegal Bangladeshi expatriates in Dubai have been pouring into the Bangladesh Counsulate premises in hope of getting quick exit or regularising their status, said a top Bangladeshi dignitary.
S. Bodiruzzman, Consul General of Bangladesh in UAE told Gulf News: “In the last week we issued about 1,000 one-way travel permit or outpasses and have enrolled about 2,500 for new passports which will be issued by our country in a stipulated time.”
At a rough estimate given by the mission, over 600,000 Bangladesh expatriates live in the UAE.
Following widespread awareness programme undertaken by the mission officials thousands have been thronging at the consulate premises. Every day the consulate officials putting in a 12-hour duty have been catering to a thousand applications.
There has been an employment visa freeze on Bangladeshi blue collar workers and these amnesty seekers now see hope of getting a six-month grace after paying their penalties to find new employment.
Bodiruzzman added: “We have excellent working relationship with the UAE government and so far our nationals have been coming here on tourist and business visas which are open. We hope that this way our people in blue collar jobs will get a chance to regularise their status. We want that a majority of those paying the absconder penalty and getting fresh passports are able to find new jobs here. The UAE government is doing a great humanitarian service with this amnesty and we are determined to do our part.”
The consul general also said that their mission was trying to provide as many concessions to the amnesty seekers. “Wherever possible, we are waving off penalties and also providing free air tickets to those with genuine financial constraints. Our prosperous expatriates are also cooperating in extending all kinds of logistic support to us in managing this operation,” said Bodiruzzman.
The consulate also said that Emirates airlines had offered 30 per cent discount on air tickets to Bangladesh and had also waived off penalties to those who were unable to keep to the date the first time. “Those unable to travel on the stipulated day are being given a chance to fly another day and without any penalties. Other airlines are also coming forward with concessional tickets to our nationals.”
The UAE government announced its fifth amnesty to flush out all illegal expatriates. The amnesty which started on August 1 will end on October 31, 2018.
Under this operation all expatriates staying illegally in the country can report to the newest General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) centres with their papers and will get a clean chit to exit the country paying a basic fee of Dh220.
These include expatriates on employment visas who absconded from their jobs and overstayed and those who came on visit visas and over stayed, among other categories of people. Such people can use their valid passports or get outpasses to exit their country.
For those wishing to stay back can regularise their status by paying an additional fee of Dh520, get new passports issued from their missions. They can then approach the nearest Amer Typing Centres and get a six-month temporary visa which is the grace period being given to them to find new jobs and get fresh employment visas stamped on their passports.
At the Bangladesh Consulate Muzaffar Mulla, 26 waited in the long queue to enrol himself for issuance of a new passport: “I am a mechanic by profession and came to Dubai in 2000. From the last two years I have been illegal and wish to find new job. The officers here are saying I will get my passport in 10 days after which I will go to the Amer Centre to get the six-month visa. I have friends in the auto garage business who have promised to help me find a job.
Shivli Khatoon, 22, on a housemaid visa from Fujairah has been illegal for last four years. “I left the job as my sponsors treated me poorly and have been surviving on odd jobs and part-time cleaning jobs. I have a family to support at home and I am not sure if I can regularise my status. I am trying and hope new passport which I have already applied for will help me get the six month temporary visa to find new job.”