Over 5,000 illegal expats apply

Over 5,000 illegal residents, including mostly Bangladeshis and Indians, have applied to leave the Kingdom under the LMRA’s ongoing Easy Exit scheme. Speaking to the Bahrain Tribune, representatives from the Bangladeshi and Indian embassies explained that of these, an estimated 3,000 have probably already left the Kingdom.

 “We forwarded around 2,800 applications from the 3,500 that we received until Monday to the LMRA and immigration authorities,” Muhammad Ibrahim, first secretary at the Bangladeshi Embassy, stated. He added that according to his calculations, based on feedback from airlines and other sources, about 2,200 Bangladeshis have so far left Bahrain.

Bangladeshi nationals have been thronging the embassy to avail themselves of the Easy Exit scheme. The scheme allows expatriates living illegally in the Kingdom on expired visas to return home without having to paying their accumulated immigration fines.

People availing themselves of the scheme must simply pay a nominal fee of BD15 if on an expired work visa and BD25 if on an expired visit visa. The large majority of expats taking advantage of the scheme are Bangladeshis. The embassy is continuing to receive around 500 applicants every week, however the numbers are gradually decreasing, Ibrahim stated.

Despite many expats enquiring about the scheme, the Indian Embassy is not experiencing such a high number of applicants. Several of Indian organisations have initiated Easy Exit road shows to create awareness of the scheme, however illegal residents seem to be put off by the high cost of airfare over the summer months. “Many have voiced to us that prevalent high airfares are the reason that they are not applying now,” said a representative of one organisation.

 July, August and September is peak season for airlines in the Gulf as students and their parents return home for the school holidays. Airlines flying to India have offered lower fares for anyone leaving the Kingdom on the Easy Exit scheme, however the offer is subject to the availability of seats and does not apply after July 15.

The representative added that many prospective Easy Exit applicants also fear that they would not be able to ever return to Bahrain if they left. This fear was also voiced by Bangladeshi nationals during a question and answer session with LMRA representative Ahmed Al Khabbaz.

 He stated that a decision on this manner is still being discussed by the concerned authorities. Commenting on the issue of airfare, Nirmal Kumar Chawdhary, second secretary at the Indian Embassy, said that those wishing to avail themselves of the Easy Exit scheme should do so at the earliest.

 “If their papers get cleared fast they can leave before July 15 and avoid paying a high price for an air ticket.” The mission has received 1,463 applications of which 814 have been cleared by the authorities. Around 410 more nationals are soon to pay the required fees and also leave the Kingdom.