Bangladesh to fine illegal foreign workers: Official

The Report Desk

Published: February 7, 2024, 12:17 AM

Bangladesh to fine illegal foreign workers: Official

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In a major move, the government is set to impose fines on foreign nationals who are working in Bangladesh without having the work permit, either on a daily basis or at a progressive rate.

Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister‍‍`s Office Tofazzel Hossain Miah revealed the decision on Tuesday while addressing a meeting organised by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in Dhaka to devise strategies against foreigners engaged in unauthorised employment in the country.

"Many foreign nationals continue working here without securing work permits or persist in their employment here even after their visa expiration, simply by paying a nominal fine of Tk30,000, exploiting a loophole in the visa policy enacted in 2006. However, such practices are no longer permissible under the new visa policy introduced in 2023," said the principal secretary after a meeting.

Tofazzel Miah also added that foreign nationals who have work permits will be allowed to switch their jobs by paying a specified fee. In such instances, foreign workers need not return to their home countries to renew their visas, he added.

Furthermore, measures have been undertaken to reduce the processing time for work permit applications for foreign nationals visiting Bangladesh on tourist and business visas, from three months before and after the application to one month, as per the principal secretary.

The principal secretary said, "To streamline visa procedures and work permits, foreign nationals can now apply for visas from various countries. Our ambassadors stationed abroad will electronically forward visa applications to our special branch, which will complete the verification process within seven days."

The government has also resolved to establish a centralized online data center with real-time access to information on foreigners working in Bangladesh. This data center will encompass the Security Services Division, the Foreign Ministry, Bangladesh Bank, the National Board of Revenue, BIDA, BEPZA, BEZA, the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, the NGO Affairs Bureau, NSI, Immigration, the Department of Passport, and the special branch.

The exact data on the remittances sent by foreigners to their home countries is not available.

According to a report from the Special Branch and Security Services Division of the Bangladesh Police, the total number of legally registered foreign nationals residing in Bangladesh as of 31 December 2023 stands at 107,167. Among them, 10,485 individuals hold business and investment visas, 14,399 possess employee visas, 6,827 are on study visas, and 75,456 hold tourist visas.

Officially, there are 37,464 Indian citizens, followed by Chinese citizens with 11,404.

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