Travel Ban Expats With Debts Win Right To Work

Expats banned from leaving Bahrain because they owe money will have the right to legally live and work in the country under a new law.

Bahrain courts can stop expats leaving the country if they have an unpaid debt or civil legal challenge proceeding against them until the debts are cleared.

The law leaves expats in a legal limbo because they cannot work to raise cash to pay off their debts.

Under the new law, expats with debts will still have to stay in Bahrain, but will have the opportunity to work and pay off the money they owe.

Amnesty for blacklisted workers

The announcement was made by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and the Ministry of Justice.

LMRA chief executive Usamah Al Absi explained the measure is aimed at curbing unscrupulous employers from exploiting blacklisted workers.

“This is not a burdensome new law,” said Al Absi. “All an expat has to do is apply to renew their work permit with their employer or apply for a new permit with a new employer in the same way as they do now.

“Although the agreement with the Ministry of Justice is for the new measure to last indefinitely, I urge any expats with debt problems to contact the authorities as soon as possible so their legal status can be confirmed without any fees or other costs.”

Thousands of illegal workers flee

The government is Bahrain opened a six-month amnesty for expats without work permits to find a new job or leave the country with the option of returning on July 1.

The amnesty ends on December 31.

So far, 25,000 expats have signed up for the opportunity.

“We believe there will be a sudden rush at the year-end as expats who are here illegally try to earn more money before they have to leave or renew their permits,” said Al Absi.

“However, December is a busy time for airlines and if they haven’t got a seat on a plane and left the country on or before December 31, there is no grace period and the terms of the amnesty will not apply.

“We will not grant any exceptions or extensions under any circumstances.”