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Bahrain: Expatriates Complain about Minimum Salary Rule for Dependent Visas

2018-07-28 - 5:40 p

Bahrain Mirror: An English-language local newspaper said that Bahrain is being urged to reconsider a visa rule first announced in January, which threatens to break up some expatriate families.

Bahrain had announced for the first time, in January, a rule that increased the minimum salary requirement of any foreign employee seeking a visa for dependants, such as a wife, husband or children.

Such visas used to be awarded to breadwinners earning at least BD250 a month, but in January it was announced the figure would rise to BD400.

Expats account for more than half of Bahrain's population, with figures released last November putting the figure at 823,000 expatriates (55 per cent), compared with 677,000 Bahrainis.

The change only affects new applicants, with those already granted residence permits covered by an amnesty.

However, the amnesty for those earning below the threshold does not cover any new children they might have after the rule was implemented.

Officials at Nationality, Passports and Resident Affairs (NPRA) referred the Gulf Daily News (GDN) request for a comment to the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), where a call centre representative yesterday confirmed the BD400 minimum salary requirement applied to all new visa submissions for dependants.

General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) assistant secretary for international relations, Karim Radhi, urged authorities to put workers' welfare first.

"We always talk about foreign remittances and blame workers for sending money abroad, draining our national wealth," said Mr Radhi.

"But when it comes to workers being with their families, we put obstacles in their way."

For his part, Bahrain Contractors Society member Hisham Mattar said "The cost of living has gone up in the past few years and it's difficult for an expat to sponsor his dependants and look after them with a BD250 monthly salary."

"In my view, a special committee should be set up to review each case and give special consideration on humanitarian grounds," he added.

Meanwhile, Bahrain Small and Medium Enterprises Society chairman Abdul Hassan Dairi said it would have been easier to swallow, if there were a gradual increase for the minimum salary.

Bahrain India Society chairman Mohammed Dadabhai agreed that exemptions should be made on humanitarian grounds.

Arabic Version