By SOMAN BABY
ABOUT 20,000 expatriates whose residence visas have not been renewed must legalise their stay before the end of this month, the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) said yesterday.
It urged all business owners and government organisations to verify and complete their expatriate labour records before March 31.The LMRA held a meeting of the clearing agents and asked them to support the government’s move to clean up the labour market.
“We had earlier urged all employers to make sure that all their expatriate employees are staying legally in the country,” said LMRA e-services and public relations manager Waheed Al Balushi.
“We are now using nearly 1,200 clearing agencies as another channel of communication with the employers.
“Some agents have said that they cannot complete the papers of many expatriates because of the delay in getting an appointment for pre-employment medical examination.”
Mr Al Balushi said the LMRA would request the Health Ministry to make arrangements to get their medical examinations completed before March 31.
“It is important for the employers to obtain the Residence Permit (RP) quickly for all expatriates who have already entered Bahrain through the old system via the Labour Ministry and the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence (GDNPR),” he added.
“They should also renew the expired passports of their expatriate staff to enable obtaining the remaining balance period of the RP from the GDNPR before March 31.
“Employers must also ensure that all expatriate family members who are residents in Bahrain, are registered under the same Commercial Register (CR).”
If a business owner wants to apply for a new work visa for an expatriate who has already entered Bahrain on a tourist visa, it should be valid for more than two weeks before submitting the application.
In this case, the expatriate should not have been in Bahrain for more than one month.
“For those who fail to update their expatriate records before March 31, the LMRA and GDNPR will not be responsible for any delays in processing their transactions,” said Mr Al Balushi. “We estimate that there are about 20,000 expatriate employees whose visas have not been renewed.” Meanwhile, the LMRA has released the employment figures for the last quarter of 2008. It said there are 578,307 employees, of whom 140,096 are Bahrainis. However, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) figures showed the total number as 471,088, including 117,071 Bahrainis. Mr Al Balushi said the difference is because of the inclusion of 72,541 domestic workers, 16,699 employees registered at the Provident Fund Commission, and more than 20,000 unpaid family workers and uninsured self-employed people, all accounted for in the LMRA data but not in CBB.