A year since deal inked, Greece yet to hire Bangladeshis
A year has passed since a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Bangladesh and Greece for the latter to recruit Bangladeshi migrant workers. However, Greece is yet to initiate the process.
As per the MoU, signed in February last year in Dhaka, Greece is supposed to hire 4,000 workers from Bangladesh each year.
According to the Bangladesh embassy in Athens, the recruitment could not be started because of difficulties in visa issuance, since Greece does not have an embassy in Bangladesh.
To resolve the problem, Bangladesh has suggested that Greece open a visa forwarding service (VFS) in Dhaka, said officials at the Bangladesh mission. Currently, Bangladeshis need to submit visa applications to the Greece embassy in India to enter the country.
Bangladesh Ambassador in Greece Ashud Ahmed recently said the mission has been in talks with Greece to find a way to start the recruitment process. Greece is considering Bangladesh's suggestion to open a VFS in Dhaka, the ambassador told this newspaper over phone.
The recruitment process could be started by the end of July, provided that the VFS is opened, he said, adding that the agreement aims to address the regular migration of Bangladeshis to Greece.
The MoU is also seen as an important step towards curbing irregular migration and trafficking of Bangladeshis to the European country. Greece is currently home to more than 28,000 Bangladeshis. European countries, especially EU member states such as Greece, are sought-after destinations for many Bangladeshi youths mainly because of their strong economic conditions.
Many Bangladeshis opt for risky irregular migration routes after paying hefty amounts to human traffickers.
During the MoU signing, Greece Migration and Asylum Minister Panagiotis A Mitarachi expressed optimism that the agreement would effectively support regular migration.
After the signing, the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare in Bangladesh said Bangladeshi workers will be hired in the "seasonal" category for the agriculture sector. The number of sectors open to hiring migrants will increase later, based on the demand and following discussions between the two countries.
The workers will have to return home upon the expiry of their work permits. They will be able to re-migrate for employment. While applying for a job, Bangladeshi job seekers will have to submit valid travel documents and work contracts, and pay necessary fees, the ministry mentioned in the press release.
Meanwhile, the regularisation of undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers in Greece started after the Greek authorities launched an online portal to receive applications in January this year.
The regularisation is a component of the MoU, and around 15,000 Bangladeshis could avail the opportunity, said officials of the Bangladesh mission in Greece.
As of March 2, the Bangladesh mission attested passport copies of over 4,000 Bangladeshis who could submit their applications through the online portal, reads a notice.
Once an application is approved, Greece will initially provide a "white paper" or temporary residence permit via email which will enable the Bangladeshi to work there legally.
Later, upon scrutiny and approval of the applications by the Greek authorities, the migrants will be provided with a "residence card" for five years, which will be renewable.