Migrant workers allowed to UAE on visit visa, experts criticise move

FE REPORT | Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The government has decided to allow sending of workers on visit visas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the employers there are willing to hire such workers. The decision came at a high level meeting on Monday, attended by ministers and officials from relevant ministries and departments, including foreign, home, expatriates' welfare, and commerce ministries.

The demand for workers, especially less-skilled ones, has increased in the UAE as the Covid-19 pandemic started easing.

However, the oil-rich country has suspended the recruitment of manpower from Bangladesh since 2014.

So, the employers in the UAE now seek to hire workers arriving on visit visa, according to insiders involved with the development. Under this system, workers will go to the UAE on visit visa, but they will get employment in different companies in the group visa category.

The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) will issue immigration clearance and smart cards to the workers.

An official said workers are going to the UAE on visit visa regularly. Now the government has allowed it so that workers get protection and do not face trouble during immigration, he added.

According to the data of the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, a total of 9,969 workers went to the UAE in the last six months.

Migration experts, however, said this is not good decision at all, as workers will face problems under this system. Such employment is not lawful in the UAE. Besides, travel agencies will get a chance to exploit workers.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP) chairman Shakirul Islam said it is a wrong decision, as visa trading will be allowed officially through introducing this system. "How can it be lawful as visit visa is only allowed for tourists?" he questioned.

If the workers fail to get jobs, they would be undocumented, which can promote human trafficking, Mr Islam said.

Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBE Development Foundation, said the two countries should reach a bilateral agreement before allowing recruitment of workers on visit visa. Otherwise, such recruitment will not bring any good to the workers, he added.

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