• Tuesday, Apr 20, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:30 am

ED: Ending the free Saudi visa scam

  • Published at 08:52 pm November 4th, 2020
Migrant Workers-manpower
MEHEDI HASAN

Agencies selling these arrangements should be brought to book

In spite of reports of numerous human rights violations over the years, Saudi Arabia remains a popular destination for migrant workers from Bangladesh. Unfortunately, many who seek to make an honest living in that country fall prey to unscrupulous recruiting agencies, and end up severely regretting their decisions. 

Without knowing the full picture, and with a lack of oversight from the authorities in Bangladesh, these migrant workers are lured into a scam known as the “free visa.” 

In reality, there is no such thing as a free visa. Agencies simply collude with Saudi households -- each household is allowed to hire up to eight workers, for jobs such as driving, gardening, and cooking -- who then offer to sponsor the worker, thus enabling the visa. 

Officially speaking, this visa would only allow the migrant worker to work for that particular household, so in effect, their stay and work in Saudi Arabia is illegal when they do otherwise.

It is high time for the government to step in put an end to this scam. First of all, Bangladeshis must not be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia under this free visa arrangement. Workers should be informed and educated on this matter, and agencies selling these arrangements should be brought to book. 

A worker should never work or seek work in a foreign land without a valid employment status. Doing so is a ticket to all kinds of exploitation, harassment, and abuse. 

The Bangladesh government should also put pressure on the Saudi authorities to stop issuing these “free” visas once and for all -- after all, the existence of this practice is common knowledge, and all that is needed to end it is stringent oversight.

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