Visas for Saudi-bound Bangladeshi expatriates extended for 24 days


Staff Reporter :
The Saudi government has agreed to extend visas for the Bangladeshis who want to return to their workplaces in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
"Our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary just phoned me, conveying the positive outcome," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told media on Wednesday evening.
The visa extension process for those whose visas have expired will start on Sunday.
He also said Bangladesh workers' iqama will remain valid for 24 more days and if required there will be further extension.
Dr Momen said the Saudi government has given landing permission to Biman Bangladesh Airlines which will facilitate the return of Bangladeshis.
The government of Bangladesh has also given permission to all Saudi airlines to land here and take Bangladeshis back to the KSA.
Earlier in the day, many Saudi returnees, who get stranded in the country for over seven months due to the pandemic, demonstrated for the third consecutive day on Wednesday in Dhaka, demanding government intervention to ensure their return to the Gulf country before their visas expire on September 30.
Agitated expatriate workers laid siege to the expatriate welfare ministry in the capital's Eskaton area around 11:00am and also took to the street.
A delegation of expatriate workers and senior officials of the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry also held a meeting in the afternoon. During the meeting they placed several demands including extension of visa and work permit. After the meeting they left the place.
Later, the minister told reporters that the ministry already sent a note verbale to the KSA government via the Foreign Ministry seeking visa and work permit extension of the stranded workers.
He, however, said they have to wait until Sunday to know the decision of the Saudi Arabian government.
At least 35,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers will lose their jobs in Saudi Arabia if they fail to return to their workplaces within September 30.
Several thousand migrant workers have been demonstrating for the last three days in front of the Saudi Airlines office at the city's Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel amid crisis in air tickets.
Saudi Arabia is the prime destination of Bangladeshi migrant workers and the biggest remittance-generating country for Bangladesh.
Currently, more than 22 lakh Bangladeshis are working in the Gulf nation.
Many Bangladeshi expatriates came to the country on vacation from Saudi Arabia before the closure of flights amid the pandemic.
They remained stranded as the Bangladesh government suspended regular flight operations with all countries, except China, from mid-March to contain Covid-19 spread.