Easy Exit scheme in danger of being cancelled

A decision to cancel the Easy Exit scheme may be taken in the coming weeks due to the low number of people availing themselves of this opportunity.

CEO of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) Ali Radhi, stated during a meeting with Indian Ambassador George Joseph yesterday, that the scheme has not led as many people coming forward as was expected, especially after it was amended to eliminate the fines accumulated by illegal workers on expired visas.

The Easy Exit scheme was first initiated in February and amended on May 25 to included a pardon of all accumulated fines for expatriates residing in the Kingdom on expired visas. Then amended scheme also included all categories of visas and was open to domestic workers and expats on expired visit visas.

Accumulated fines, which in some cases run into hundreds of Bahrain dinars, are pardoned under the new scheme, with applicants only being required to pay a nominal fee of BD25 if on an expired visit visa and BD15 if on an expired employment visa.

“What surprised me is that bardly a handful of people have come forward to avail themselves of the amended Easy Exit scheme with no fines, whereas earlier when they had to pay fines there were large numbers of people applying,” Radhi stated.

The low turnout may negatively affect the Easy Exit scheme and lead to it being cancelled. “As I said earlier it is up to the discretion of the committee whether or not to continue with the scheme.

If we see that there are large numbers (of expats) availing of it then it will continue. But if the committee feels that there are not enough people availing of the scheme than we might decide to just stop it.”

He added that he is scheduled to submit a report in about two weeks to the committee on the scheme. “I hope that there will be substantially more people coming forward to avail themselves of the Easy Exit.”

There are an estimated 43,000 expatriates residing in the Kingdom illegally, the LMRA announced recently, adding that this number has decreased from the previous estimate of 48,000 three months ago.