Tens of thousands overstaying Bangladeshi expatriates in Dubai have been pouring into the Bangladesh Consulate premises in the hope of getting quick exit or regularising their status, the Gulf News reported on Monday.
“In the last week, we issued about 1,000 one-way travel permits or outpasses and have enrolled about 2,500 for new passports which will be issued by our country in a stipulated time,” the Dubai-based newspaper quoted S Bodiruzzman, Bangladesh Consul General in the UAE, as saying.
According a rough estimate provided by the mission, over 600,000 Bangladesh expatriates live in the UAE.
Following a widespread awareness programme undertaken by the mission officials, thousands have been crowding the consulate premises. Every day the consulate officials are putting in a 12-hour duty to cater to applicants’ needs, says the report.
There has been an employment visa freeze on Bangladeshi blue collar workers and these amnesty seekers now see the hope of getting a six-month grace after paying their penalties to find new jobs.
“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,” Bodiruzzman added.
The consul general also said the Bangladesh mission was to try and provide as many concessions to the amnesty seekers as possible. “Wherever possible, we’re waiving 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 Airline had offered 30 percent 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.”
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 the expatriates staying illegally in the country can report to the nearest General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) centre with their papers. They will get a clean chit to exit the country by 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. Such people can use their valid passports or get outpasses to exit their country.
Those wishing to stay back can regularise their status by paying an additional fee of Dh520, and get new passports issued from their missions. They can then approach one-stop visa centre 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 enroll him for having a new passport. “I’m a mechanic by profession and came to Dubai in 2000. From the last two years, I’ve been illegal and wish to find a new job. The officers here are saying I’ll get my passport in 10 days and after which I’ll go to the Amer Centre (one-stop visa centre) to get the six-month visa. I’ve friends in the auto garage business who’ve promised to help me find a job,” he told the Gulf News.