By MANDEEP SINGH, Posted on » Wednesday, April 01, 2009
EXPATRIATES who have failed to regularise their visas due to a backlog of cases at the Health Ministry will be given one last chance to become legal, officials have declared.
Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ali Radhi said officials had received hundreds of calls from people saying they were given appointments for medical examinations weeks after the expiry of yesterday’s government deadline.“We have now decided to give all those with appointments a chance until the medical examinations are over,” he told the GDN.
“SMS messages will be sent to all of them to come to the LMRA after they have completed their medical checks.
Mr Radhi said those without Health Ministry appointments would be declared illegal as of midnight last night and would be dealt with by the laws of Bahrain.
“We are co-ordinating with the General Directorate of Nationalities Passports and Residence (GDNPR) to come up with the exact figures on how many illegals will still be in Bahrain after the Health Ministry statistics are made available within a week.”
Mr Radhi said Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Aziz Hamza had assured LMRA officials they would try to speed up medical appointments.
He said private hospitals had also been authorised to conduct medical tests on expatriates, provided these were later endorsed at the Al Razi Health Centre in Manama, the main centre for conducting such examinations.
“The Al Razi Health Centre will also start operating on Fridays to get over the waiting list of appointments and extra hours will be allocated on other days,” said Dr Hamza.
“They have also promised extra staff and manpower to help us along the way.”
Mr Radhi would not give a timeframe when all expatriates should have completed their medical appointments, saying it will take “some time”.
The LMRA had last month urged businesses and government organisations to verify and complete their expatriate labour records before March 31.
They also held a meeting of clearing agents and asked them to support the government’s move to clean up the labour market. LMRA e-services and public relations manager Waheed Al Balushi earlier said they had also urged employers to make sure that all their expatriate employees were staying legally in the country.
Mr Al Balushi said it was important for the employers to obtain the Residence Permit (RP) for all expatriates who entered Bahrain through the old system via the Labour Ministry and the GDNPR.
He also announced a change of timings at the LMRA for people who visit them for photographs, signatures and fingerprinting. “These counters will now work from 2pm to 8pm every day as opposed to the staggered timings earlier,” he added. firstname.lastname@example.org.