BMET's clearance pass: Passengers travelling on visit visas suffer at airports | The Daily Star
10:15 PM, April 18, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:21 PM, April 18, 2021

BMET's clearance pass: Passengers travelling on visit visas suffer at airports

Many outgoing passengers especially those wishing to visit United Arab Emirates are facing difficulty after the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh issued a directive for such passengers to obtain BMET card or clearance. Not only this, related organisations and Probashi Kalyan Desk at the airport have been facing unexpected complexities in dealing with them. BMET's district offices are also facing problems. 

A government directive has been issued banning international flights for a week from April 14. As a result, some 30 Bangladeshi workers faced uncertainty regarding return to their workplaces. So, a decision was taken on April 15 at an inter-ministerial meeting to arrange special flights.

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In clause B of a CAAB notice, issued on April 17, on a decision regarding this, it is said that passengers traveling abroad on new visit visa have to obtain BMET card issued by expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry. If a passenger does not obtain BMET card then it has to be ensured that they are going abroad for 'work'. In this regard, relevant passenger, immigration, airliners and Probashi Kalyan Desk at airport have been directed to provide assistance.

And this has resulted in chaos. Because, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) has no provision to issue clearance or NOC to those wishing to travel abroad on visit (travel) visa. The bureau only issues clearance to new employment visa holders and no-objection certificate to members of expatriates obtaining family visa. On the other hand, those who are going abroad on travel visa for different purposes including business and pleasure trip have no scope to prove their 'work'. 

A confusing situation involving visit visa-holding passengers of special flight was observed on Sunday morning at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. In line with the CAAB directive, visit visa-holding passengers faced obstacle from immigration and airliners due to absence of BMET card.

It was learned from Probashi Kalyan Desk source, problems started with UAE-bound transit passengers of Oman Air flying to Muscat in the morning. Staffers of the airliner refused to allow them to board in without BMET card. Many were sent back from immigration. They were asked to take help from Probashi Kalyan Desk. The desk could not support them either since it has no such jurisdiction.

BMET Assistant Director Fakhrul Islam, who is in charge of Probashi Kalyan Desk at HSIA, said as they do not have provision to give clearance to passengers with visit visa, it is also not possible for them to verify or ensure their work. Later, verbal clearance was given after the matter was brought to notice of CAAB high officials. As of afternoon, the obligation was eased regarding BMET card or clearance for visit visa holders travelling on Biman, Fly Dubai, Etihad, and US Bangla flying to UAE.

So far, no official directive has been issued in this regard from CAAB, he said.

UAE embassy in Bangladesh also advised passengers who wish to travel on visit (travel) visa to get registered with BMET. Such advice from the embassy came in light of the CAAB directive.

BMET card or clearance has been issued for outbound workers from BMET headquarters and five of its district offices. After the CAAB directive, many have been trying to communicate with these offices in different ways including via hotline.

Deputy Director Mohammad Zahirul Alam Majumdar of BMET's Chattogram office said, "Apart from different travel agencies and recruiting agencies, many UAE-bound passengers enquired about the matter communicating with us over phone. We have informed them that we haven't received any directive from the ministry or bureau. Also, from my experience, I can say we have no option to issue such clearance for passengers travelling on visit visa."

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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