Thousands of Bangladeshi workers became the worst victims of migrating to Middle East countries on the so-called free visas or individual visas also known as friends and family visas.
Migration experts expressed disappointment over allowing workers to leave for ME countries on these visas which land the migrants into total uncertainties with regard to getting jobs.
On arrival in ME countries on these visas spending huge sums the workers are required to knock doors to get jobs, they said.
Dishonest brokers and recruiting agents popularized these visas in Bangladesh knowing full well that the workers would face uncertainties in these host countries, said migration experts.
But middlemen, recruiting agencies and dishonest employers made money by selling these visas to the poor and unlettered workers.
Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training director general Salim Reza told New Age on Tuesday that brokers use the term free visa to deceive the workers ‘though there is nothing called free visas for the migrants.’
He said that the government was raising public awareness about the real picture to discourage workers for accepting the so called free visas spending money often they mobilize by selling property.
Replying to a question, he said ‘if any worker complains that he or she did not get job after migrating with authentic job visa we can take action.’
In June last year, Mobarak Hossain returned from Oman empty handed as on arrival in Muscat on called free visa he got no job.
He sold his homestead to pay Tk 3.75 lakh to broker to get a free visa.
He said that he left for Oman with BMET’s clearance and on arrival in Muscat he was taken to a camp where over 70 Bangladeshi workers were staying without getting the jobs they had been promised.
Three months later Mobarak came back home to be an auto-rickshaw driver at Tongi.
Some Bangladeshi workers in the ME also use the so called free visas to recruit workers of Bangladesh to make extra money though the migrants become victims of cheating.
Migration experts said that Saudi ‘free visas’ were being sold for up to Tk10 lakh, Qatari one for up to Tk six lakh while the Omani and Kuwaiti ones for up to Tk four lakh.
Independent Peace Activist Pervez Siddiqui, also executive director at Film4Peace Foundation, told New Age that mostly migrants using free visas were deported by Saudi Arabia over the last week
WARBE Development Foundation’s director Jasiya Khatoon told New Age that following migration on free visas Bangladeshi workers remain jobless in ME countries before being deported.
‘We would advise aspirant workers not to migrate with free visas,’ she said, adding that the government, especially the BMET, would have to be proactive to ensure safe migration and stop migration using ‘free visas’.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam said that if the government really wanted to ensure fair or ethical recruitment and quality migration of workers, it must stop sending workers with such bogus visas.
‘Free visas are damaging poor migrants and benefiting recruiting agencies and their brokers abroad,’ he said.
BMET officials said that over 70 per cent migrants from Bangladesh to ME countries were sent on the so called ‘free visas.’
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