"The Saudi ambassador told us that they will reissue visas for around 25,000 newly recruited workers from Bangladesh"
Foreign minister Dr A K Abdul Momen, said, "Stranded Saudi returnees who have not been able to procure employers' permission should look for alternative jobs. They should try to find new employers."
He said this after a meeting with diplomats of six countries- Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, UAE and Malaysia in state guest house Padma on Wednesday.
The foreign minister (FM) said, "If their employers don't want them back, what can we do? We have requested Saudi Arabia to settle the issue."
"Only 53 of them have not gotten employer clearance yet. So, the number is not so big. In the meantime, around 5,500 have gone to Saudi Arabia after flights resumed. All will go but they have to be patient," he added.
"The Saudi ambassador told us that they will reissue visas for around 25,000 newly recruited workers from Bangladesh."
These Saudi-bound freshers were scheduled to go to Saudi in March this year but they got stranded due to flight suspension amid Covid-19.
The FM said, "Twenty flights will operate weekly to Saudi Arabia from October 1, with 10 flights by Saudi Airlines and 10 flights by Biman Bangladesh Airlines."
"Flights will be increased. We are talking to the authorities concerned. We are asking them to talk to their governments," he added.
The minister further said, "The government has allocated Tk 700 crore for returnee migrants. If any worker fails to go back to the destination country, they can find alternative jobs here."
The stranded Saudi returnees have been demonstrating for auto-renewal of their re-entry visa to Saudi Arabia. Visas of many Saudi returnees expired on Wednesday.
For extension of a re-entry visa, a worker will require a letter attested by the Saudi foreign ministry from his employer about extension of leave, a copy of a valid Iqama and another letter from the Saudi General Directorate of Passports.
All these documents will be provided by the employers to the returnees and they will then have to submit the documents to the visa processing agencies.
Dr Momen said, "There were predictions that more than 10 lakh Bangladeshis will return from abroad amid Covid-19. We said that the number of returnees would be less. Around one lakh 37 thousand workers returned amid the pandemic."
Among others, Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed was present in the meeting.
He said, "We have represented the problem of our stranded migrant returnees to Saudi diplomats. But they cannot come to a decision from here. Now they will deliver the message to the concerned authority."
"Still I am hopeful that the problem will be resolved. But we also have to make alternative plans," he added.
More than one lakh Bangladeshi migrants got stranded in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic when they came home on leave. Around 80 percent of them are from Saudi Arabia, according to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.