30,970 Saudi visas have to be reissued
About 30,970 new visas for migrant workers' employment in Saudi Arabia are needed to be reissued since those got expired amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.
These new visas have been dealt by some 288 member organisations of Baira, the association's Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman said yesterday.
Besides, there are about 33,961 "visa papers" for employment in Saudi Arabia which are at the pre-stamping stage at present, he told this newspaper by phone.
He said a nominal portion of the expired visas was submitted to the Saudi embassy in Dhaka for reissuance. He refused to mention any number.
The Baira leader said most of the expired visas were yet to be submitted since there have been delay in getting fresh medical reports and "police clearance" certificates of migrant workers, adding, those are required to get the visas reissued.
A stamped employment visa for Saudi Arabia remains valid for three months, he further said.
Baira started to submit expired visas to Saudi embassy for reissuance early last month.
On September 30, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters that Saudi Arabia has agreed to reissue about 25,000 new visas.
The same day, Expatriates' Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad said the Saudi embassy will cancel and reissue the visas which were obtained by potential migrants in March but could not be used.
Shameem yesterday said they have urged the foreign ministry, expatriates' welfare ministry, and home ministry for enhancing efforts to resolve problems regarding medical report and police clearance for the fresh migrant workers.
According to industry insiders, besides police clearance and medical report, potential migrant workers also have to submit "letter of approval" issued by their prospective Saudi employers to get their visas reissued.
Asked, the Baira secretary general said they have been helping workers in getting the approval letters from the Saudi employers.
Home to more than 22 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates, Saudi Arabia is also the leading destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers and top remittance-generating country for Bangladesh.
In 2019-2020 fiscal year, migrant workers sent about $4 billion in remittance from the oil-rich Gulf country, says Bangladesh Bank data.
This year, Saudi employers hired about 1.33 lakh workers from Bangladesh till March, according to data of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
Hiring of workers from Bangladesh by employers in labour-receiving countries including Saudi Arabia stopped in mid-March with suspension of air communications amid the pandemic.