Illegal visas to Bahrain ‘openly sold online’
Manama, August 23, 2014
A website popular amongst job seekers is illegally listing visas to Bahrain for sale at a cost of up to BD1,500 ($3,950), a report said.
The issue of illegal work visas being sold on expatriates.com was first exposed by the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication in January 2010.
The people behind the advertisements are able to remain anonymous because the website only requires that you enter a valid email address to post, something which can then be concealed.
Workers' rights activists are now calling for an urgent investigation into the selling of the visas '“ as not only is the practice illegal, but they say by targeting vulnerable low-income earners, the racketeers are also preying on some of the most vulnerable in society.
'This is a big scam that promises work visas for certain occupations without the person even being made aware of the company or firm involved,' said Migrant Workers Protection Society chairwoman Marietta Dias.
'The buyer has no clue what they are getting into and even if the process works and they get the visa, then after the completion of two years, the person has no idea about their sponsorship and could be forced to pay a higher fee.
'Another scenario is that sponsors, after receiving the money, could deny getting it '“ putting additional pressure on the worker.'
Dias called for a clampdown on so-called 'free visas' being sold online, and appealed to the authorities to take appropriate measures to deal with the problem.
'Workers blindly pay the money after seeing such advertisements online and one has to understand that these are Bahrainis and businessmen who are selling these visas '“ this needs to be looked into immediately to avoid further exploitation,' she added.
When contacted by a reporter, two of the advertisers at that time claimed that they did not know what they were doing was against the law 'while one even said it was a 'good thing' because he was helping people, who could not get a visa legally.
No one from the Labour Market Regulatory Authority was available for comment when contacted by the GDN.
Other odd items listed for sale online in Bahrain range from advertisements for 'silent partners' to help set up small businesses such as cafeterias and cold stores to a man peddling 'desert sand samples' on eBay for $30 each.
Local currency can also be found listed on the online auction site, for a much higher price than its face value.
A 'rare BD5 note from 1973', for example, is on offer for more than $7,500 (BD2,800) on eBay '“ being sold by an Israel-based trader.
However, Bahrain Philatelic Society president Mohammed Janahi said it was not that unusual to see Bahraini banknotes listed for high prices.
'It is up to the collector to decide the selling price and in some cases they are not aware of the actual value of the item,' he said.
'There are many buyers online, which makes it a good opportunity for rare items to be sold and fetch a good price.' – TradeArabia News Service