PH welcomes Bahrain’s ‘Flexi Visa,’ hopes to better protect migrant rights

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2018 08:02 PM

According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, the flexible work permit, or the "blue card," is a step in the right direction for promoting and protecting the migrant rights. File/Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the implementation of Bahrain's flexible work permit, which will benefit undocumented Filipinos in the country.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano expressed hope the system would be replicated in other countries in the Middle East.

According to Cayetano, the flexible work permit, or the "blue card," is a step in the right direction for promoting and protecting the migrant rights.

Flexi visa holders will be issued a renewable work permit with a two-year validity, health insurance and a return ticket at the end of the contract period or when workers decide to return to their home country.

The visa will also allow a migrant worker to legally work in Bahrain without an employer sponsor.

The flexi visa may only be issued to out-of-status migrant workers without criminal records or travel ban due to an outstanding criminal case. It will not be issued to migrant workers who are on domestic worker, business, or tourist visa.

Workers must pay for a one-time administrative fee of 449 Bahraini dinars (roughly P65,000) and a monthly maintenance fee of 30 Bahraini dinars (P4,300).

“Our Embassy in Manama, along with the representatives from our DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA), are working with the Bahraini Government to ensure that some 1,295 of our out of status kababayan in Bahrain can avail of the program,” Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ferdinand Ver said.

Ver added the government is providing financial assistance to workers to secure the visa. It will also be giving workers two months' worth of maintenance fees while they look for jobs to regularize their status.

The embassy launched its financial assistance program for Filipinos qualified to apply for the Flexi-Visa program on Friday.

Ver said the DFA, in coordination with Bahrain's Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), plans to organize a public awareness event and formally launch the Flexi Visa.