By Camille A. Aguinaldo Reporter
BAHRAIN’s recent Flexible Work Permit or “blue card” will help regularize the immigration status of undocumented Filipino workers in the Persian Gulf State, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.
In its report to outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ferdinand A. Ver said Flexi Visa holders will be issued a renewable work permit with two years validity, health insurance coverage, and a return ticket at the end of the contract period or when the worker decides to return to his or her home country. It also allows the migrant worker to legally work in Bahrain without an employer sponsor.
The visa may only be issued to out of status migrant workers without criminal records or travel ban due to an outstanding criminal case and to workers who are not on domestic-worker, business, or tourist visa. About 30 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have already filed their Flexi Visa applications, according to the DFA.
The DFA also said the selection criteria is sensitive to Bahrain’s security and anti-trafficking concerns. The cost of getting the visa includes an administrative fee of 449 Bahraini Dinar or around P64,000 and a monthly maintenance fee of 30 Bahraini Dinar or around P4,000.
Mr. Ver said the Philippine Embassy in Manama is coordinating with the Bahraini government to ensure that 1,295 out-of-status Filipino migrant workers can avail themselves of the program.
“We are providing financial assistance for them to secure the visa and take care of two months worth of maintenance fees, so they need not worry of the fees as they look (for) jobs to finally regularize their status,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Cayetano described Bahrain’s program as a “step in the right direction in promoting and protecting the rights of migrants.”
“We also express our hope that this will be replicated in other countries, particularly neighboring countries in the Middle East,” he said in a statement.