|07 September, 2017

Passport rules for flexi permits eased in Bahrain

An illegal expatriate worker in Bahrain who does not have his passport in his possession is now eligible to apply for a flexi work permit.



An illegal expatriate worker who does not have his passport in his possession is now eligible to apply for a flexi work permit.The only condition is that the passport should be valid for at least six months at the time of application.The two-year permit allows a person to live and work in Bahrain without an employer (sponsor), in any job with any number of employers on full or part-time basis.

“We have now started accepting applications from individuals who do not have their passports with them but seek to apply for a flexi work permit,” Labour Market Regulatory Authority chief executive Ausamah Al Absi told the GDN yesterday, as the scheme got underway at the labour watchdog’s Sitra branch.“They will undergo the same process as the other applicants, but only their work permit and residency details will be entered into our system.“This is the first time that an individual without any residency (stamp) on the passport will be considered legal, and allowed to work in the country.

”Earlier, all applicants were required to produce their original passports while applying under the Flexi Work Permit scheme which was launched on July 23 this year (2016).Successful applicants receive a blue identity card, renewable every six months free of charge, featuring their CPR number and photograph.They also receive a text message to visit Immigration to have a two-year residence permit stamped on their card.However, the rules for those who do not have their passports with them are different.“

Once a worker who does not have his passport with him has paid all his fees and receives a card, our system will register only his residency details.“It is up to him to visit the nearest police station or his embassy to get a new passport, but he will continue to be a legal worker in the country.”After getting his passport, the worker can visit the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs to get his permit stamped, following which he is free to travel outside the country.A two-year flexi work permit costs BD1,169, including BD200 for a work visa, BD144 healthcare fee, a BD30 monthly fee and a one-time deposit of BD90 to ensure travel tickets can be refunded in case they wish to return home.

There is also a one-time BD15 discounted fee to be paid by a person whose residency has expired.Expats aged under 60 who live in Bahrain and do not have a legal work permit are eligible under the scheme which was designed to help stamp out the so-called “free visa” market, under which foreigners purchased work permits for as much as BD1,500 and then worked illegally for other employers.

The new initiative is expected to inject as much as BD56 million into government coffers – money that would otherwise have gone into the illegal visa black market.“The response to the scheme has been good so far with nearly 800 permits issued until last week since the scheme was launched,” said Mr Al Absi.Domestic workers and those with travel bans or court cases are not covered under the scheme.

Officials say there are more than 60,000 illegal workers in Bahrain, most of whom are from Bangladesh.The LMRA hopes to issue 2,000 permits every month during the first two years, although those who intend to work in restaurants, hotels and salons also need to submit medical test results from a Health Ministry authorised centre.Anyone interested in the scheme should send their CPR numbers via text message to 33150150 to check if they are eligible.

sandy@gdn.com.bh© Copyright 2017 www.ttnonline.com

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