Saudi lifts visa restrictions on Bangladeshi males

The Saudi embassy in Dhaka has withdrawn the restriction on visas for male migrant workers, said a leader of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.

The embassy had imposed the restriction, saying that recruiting agencies were not sending at least 25 percent female workers simultaneously.

"Recruiting agencies are now allowed to submit applications of both male and female workers to the Saudi embassy together or separately. There is no condition now,” said Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, joint secretary general-2 of Baira.

He said recruiting agents had been facing trouble in sending workers to Saudi Arabia since November last year as the Saudi embassy had refused to accept passports for visas if 25 percent of the applicants were not females.

Baira informed the expatriates' welfare ministry of the matter. Saudi embassy officials in Dhaka then held meetings with Baira on December 15 and December 29, he said.

Shameem said Saudi embassy Consular Khaled Baksh yesterday informed Baira that the recruiting agencies seeking visas for male workers could submit applications and there was no condition of submitting applications of 25 percent females.

"This is great news for Bangladesh and those seeking to go to Saudi Arabia for work,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to some 15 lakh Bangladeshis and had imposed restrictions on labour recruitment since 2008, resumed recruiting Bangladeshi female workers in early 2015.

The kingdom began recruiting male workers in the middle of 2016, but was complaining that female domestic workers were not being recruited in adequate numbers.

Bangladesh sent some 85,000 female domestic workers there between April, 2015, and December 31, 2016, according to statistics of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.

There are some 300 recruiting agents who have special approval from the government to send female domestic workers, but the rest 900 send only male workers abroad.

“So, the agents which send only male workers will not face problems in getting visas for workers now,” Shameem said.

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