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22 Jun 2022

Kamran Siddiqui, Business Standard (Bangladesh)

Gulf: Employers illegally selling visas to recruitment agencies in 90 percent of cases adds to plight of migrant workers as costs are passed on to them

"Illegal ‘visa trading’ augments migrants’ woes", 21 Jun 2022

"Visa trading" – the procuring of visas from employers by middlemen and their sales to recruiting agencies in source countries like Bangladesh – is illegal. But the practice remains widespread, forcing jobseekers to cough up extra amounts of money as they prepare for work overseas.

In 2019, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia entered into an agreement to stop "visa trading" that heavily increases recruitment costs, and contributes to debt bondage and forced labour abroad, but there has been no visible progress yet in putting a stop to the illegal practice. 

In 2016, an estimated $2.1 billion was laundered out of Bangladesh through illegal transactions to pay for work visas...

In 90% of the cases, visas...are purchased illegally...

..."Visa fees have to be paid because of uneven competition among recruiting agencies..."

Qatar's interior ministry said earlier that the punishment for illegal visa trading is maximum imprisonment of up to three years and/or a fine of up to QR50,000 for the first time and QR100,000 in the case of a repetition of the offence...

However, in some cases, employers or agents in Qatar secure visas to recruit workers and then demand kickbacks of about $300 to $500 for each worker from agents in labour-sending countries in exchange for the visas, the cost of which is passed on to workers.