Last year about 550,000 Bangladeshis went to Saudi Arabia on work visas, but a many are unable to engage in any specific job there. Every day, many of these helpless people throng the Bangladesh embassy hoping to get help.
The embassy’s Labour Counselor Mohammad Sarwar Alam said: “We are trying to help as much as possible. This [crisis] stemmed from the lack of awareness of the immigrants.”
“In some cases, they know that they cannot do the job they mention to get Saudi visas.”
Sarwar explained that many workers went to Saudi Arabia on “free visas.” “They know that they have to find a job themselves once they are in the country, but that is not an easy task since there are few options for new employment,” he added.
When asked about the embassy’s role, the labour counselor pointed out that legally, a visa is supposed to be issued only after job attestation by the Bangladesh embassy.
“But in many cases, the papers are prepared in Dhaka without attestations and the Saudi embassy issues visas. We have urged the Saudi authorities to refrain from issuing visas without verified attestation by the embassy,” he added.
Sarwar said the Saudi authorities had realized the matter and would be more cautious in the future.
A Bangladeshi embassy official, who declined to be named, stated: “An immigrant spends at least Tk500,000 to come to Saudi Arabia.”
The official elaborated on the attestation issue, saying: “The rule is that Saudi employers need to file an application with the Saudi authorities whenever they need to recruit workers. The Saudi authorities, in turn, inform the [Bangladesh] embassy.
“Then, the embassy officials visit the employers’ businesses and if they find the conditions satisfactory, they attest the recruitment application. After that the process to send workers from Bangladesh starts.”
However, in many cases, intermediary agents prepare the papers without the embassy’s attestation and submit them for approval to the Saudi embassy.
Asked if these rackets forge attestation, the officials replied in the negative, saying: “There is no option to forge it because it is submitted online. The Saudi authorities can easily find out which has been attested and which has not if they check online.”
“Awareness campaigns should be run in Bangladesh to inform the public that anyone going to Saudi Arabia for work without attestation will face greater risks and difficulties,” the official added.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com