No ban on work visas for Bangladeshis, Kuwait labour ministry clarifies

The Kuwaiti labour ministry has clarified that there is no ban or restriction on any category of work visa it processes.

Published : 6 March 2018, 04:39 PM
Updated : 6 March 2018, 05:28 PM

The foreign ministry said the clarification came during State Minister Md Shahriar Alam’s meeting with Kuwaiti Labour Minister Hend SB Al Subaih on Tuesday in Kuwait City.

The labour minister, however, said a “temporary restriction” on issuance of visas for domestic helpers in favour of Kuwaiti individuals which is known as category 20 visa has been imposed by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

This is to “review and streamline” the sector following “some irregularities”, Kuwait says.

During the meeting, both sides agreed to work together to establish centres of excellence for Kuwait-bound workers in Bangladesh.

Kuwait also promised to address different challenges faced by the Bangladeshi community there, the foreign ministry said.

Middle Eastern media reported on Monday Kuwait has revived a ban on recruiting Bangladeshis.

The Middle East is the largest market for Bangladesh manpower. File photo

The state minister, however, on Tuesday told from Kuwait this was related to only category 20 visa, known as Khadim visa, through which house helps are recruited. 

He clarified there were irregularities in the Khadim visa in collusion with the recruiting agencies of both sides.

“One household can bring one Khadim - this is the rule of that category, but the Kuwait interior ministry noticed that this rule had been breached. After coming to Kuwait, they had to take other jobs as only one can stay in a home,” he explained.

“We (Bangladesh government) are also against such irregularities,” he said.

Foreigners make up two-thirds of Kuwait’s total population of 4.5 million with Indians being the largest expatriate community.

According to the junior minister, nearly 300,000 Bangladeshis are in Kuwait on work visa and 80,000 people have migrated there since the country reopened its market in 2016.

The foreign ministry said during the meeting with the labour minister, the state minister appreciated the government of Kuwait for hosting a large number of Bangladesh workers in Kuwait and for recruiting increased number of Bangladeshis in the last two years.

He thanked the Kuwait side for the ongoing general amnesty declared by the government which will allow the irregular migrant workers to be regularised. 

Shahriar asked them to hire more Bangladeshis particularly professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers. The Kuwaiti minister promised to positively consider the request.

Both sides agreed on working together to enact the Cooperation Agreement on Manpower (2000) and to form a Joint Working Group under the agreement.

State Minister Shahriar also appreciated the leading role of Kuwait in extending humanitarian assistance to the forcibly displaced Rohingya people who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

The labour minister, within her capacity as the Minister of Social Affairs and the State Minister for Planning and Development, promised increased assistance through the charitable organisations of Kuwait working in Bangladesh and through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Shahriar invited the Kuwait minister to visit Bangladesh and she was keen to do so shortly.

Earlier in the morning, the state minister met the director general of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development at its headquarters in Kuwait City. They agreed to finalise the loan agreement for financing the Urban Infrastructure Improvement Projects for 51 municipalities in northern area of Bangladesh as early as possible.

Shahriar also had a meeting with the secretary general of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) at its Secretariat in Kuwait.

They exchanged views on increased cooperation between Bangladesh and the ACD in the coming days.

Bangladesh is the founding member of 34-nation ACD and Co-prime Mover for its cooperation agenda in the area of food, water and energy security and connectivity. 

Shahriar is in Kuwait on a two-day official visit at the invitation of the deputy foreign minister of Kuwait. They held bilateral talks on Monday.