Bahrain’s “Flexi Visa” Program to Benefit 3000 Undocumented OFWs

Around 3,000 undocumented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) could benefit from the “Flexi Visa” program, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated on Thursday, November 8. The program was launched recently by the Bahrain government, Philippine News Agency reported.

ALSO READ: Bahrain Facilitates “Regularization” of Undocumented OFWs

The Flexi Visa is basically a residence and work permit for people who have no legal immigration status in Bahrain. Renewable every two years, the visa now includes domestic workers who have absconded from work before November 1, 2018. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) shared this video about it on their official Facebook page:

Flexi Visa to Help Thousands of Illegal Workers

The Undersecretary for Migrant Workers, Sarah Lou Arriola, shared that DFA welcomes the inclusion of irregular OFWs in the program. “After a series of quiet negotiations and discussions, Bahrain’s Labor Marketing Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced for the first time that those runaway domestic workers in the country will now be covered by the Flexi Visa program,” she said.

“This is in line with the DFA’s efforts to seek pathways for regularization of our OFWs in implementation of the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte to spare no effort to protect our nationals overseas,” Arriola added.

Arriola also referred to the Flexi Visa program as “a first in the Middle East” and “unique to Bahrain.” She mentioned that during the launching of the program, 120 Filipinos were able to acquire their “blue cards,” while 42 more are expected to receive theirs next week. To date, there are 267 previously undocumented OFWs who have acquired their visas.

Notably, the DFA — through the Philippine Embassy in Manama — has covered the visa costs and first two monthly administrative fees of the OFWs who have availed of the program initially.

In response to the program, Undersecretary Arriola expressed her appreciation to the government of Bahrain, which provides opportunities for undocumented OFWs to legalize their status. She commented: “These reforms are to our mind one of the most progressive among the Gulf Cooperation Countries and demonstrates to the world that a receiving country and a sending country can cooperate to protect migrant rights to their mutual benefit.”

Meanwhile, here is a reminder from the Philippine Embassy in Manama, calling on Filipino skilled workers in Bahrain to avail of the Flexi Visa program:

ALSO READ: How to Apply for a “Flexi Permit” in Bahrain

Indeed, it’s not everyday that we hear about a country offering an opportunity for undocumented workers to regularize their status. If you are an undocumented OFW in Bahrain, we highly recommend that you take advantage of the Flexi Visa program!

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