Foreign workers to see easy visa rules
The government will soon streamline the existing rules on setting up liaison offices by foreign investors and issuing work visas to the foreigners in a bid to attract more expertise and investment, said officials.
A committee headed by Board of Investment (BoI) Executive Chairman MA Samad is working on the draft guidelines, which will get a go-ahead soon, they said.
"The foreign investors and visa seekers have long been facing problems in setting up liaison offices and getting visa. The committee is looking into their complaints," Abu Reza Khan, executive member of BoI, said yesterday.
He said the main objective of the initiative is to efficiently manage a central data bank, which will help monitor the activities of all the foreigners and branch and liaison offices of the investors.
Currently three government agencies -- the BoI, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) and NGO Affairs Bureau -- grant permissions for setting up branch, representative and liaison offices, and buying houses, and issue work permits to the foreign nationals.
But the committee plans a single organisation for all the works.
Another official said the government aims at bringing more foreigners with special technical know-how.
"The country is yet to reach the expected level of expertise in many sectors, including light engineering, information technology and ship building. We want to attract more experts to the country," he added.
Under the existing rules, the employers train local employees by foreign experts and technicians so that the locals can replace the foreigners within five years. But in most cases, the guidelines are not followed, said the officials.
The committee in a series of meeting held recently observed that the officials working at Bangladesh missions abroad do not always efficiently issue visas to the foreigners.
"The Bangladeshi officials often issue wrong category visas to the foreigners. Sometimes they allocate long and short tenure to the visa seekers than expected, and sometimes they mistakenly prevent the foreigners having expertise from working in Bangladesh," said a member of the committee.
The committee is also working on other issues like requirement of work permit for the spouses who enter the country with 'no visa required' category people, and possibility to reduce duration of 'B-category visa' as the foreigners sometimes work under this visa without prior permission.
According to the existing rules, the employers have to publish advertisements in leading national dailies before recruiting a foreign national to see whether local people are available with special experience, skill and academic background required for a particular job.
But the committee plans to relax the requirements, and companies may need to publish advertisements on their websites instead of newspapers.
Currently around 20,000 foreigners are working in Bangladesh.
Some intelligence agencies, especially the Special Branch of Police, allege that around 3,000 foreigners are working in the country without work permits or valid approvals.