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Tue 20 Dec 2016 11:50 AM

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Bahrain said to clamp down on visa black-market

Gulf state plans to implement sweeping labour reforms from April 2017

Bahrain said to clamp down on visa black-market
Image for illustrative purpose only.

Bahrain will clamp down on a “black market” of visas and work permits by scrapping its old ‘kafala’ sponsorship system and imposing a new scheme in April 2017, according to local media.

Under the proposals to crack down on a visa black market, up to 48,000 ‘illegal’ expats will be granted licences to work in any company in Bahrain.

Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) CEO Ausamah Al Absi was quoted as telling Gulf Daily News, that the LMRA would issue 2,000 licences per month to low- and medium-skilled expats and currently illegal workers as part of the new scheme.

This will be assessed every six months and reviewed within two years, he added.

Under the reforms, expat workers currently with ‘illegal’ status will be required to pay for their own health and social insurance, as well as residence and work permit fees and return tickets home, and be allowed to work with any company or individual under direct contracts or on hourly, daily or monthly basis.

Nevertheless, employers will continue to pay tickets, insurance, residence and work permits fees for legal status workers.

The new system is part of the country’s large-scale labour market reform project. Its outdated ‘kafala’ system first came into effect in 1962 “to enable employers to monitor migrant labourers,” according to Al Absi.

He said that Bahrain’s economy has since evolved and requires readjustment to meet the needs of the modern labour market.

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