Oman amnesty to help 60,000 illegals

Oman amnesty to help 60,000 illegals

Local newspapers have reported that an estimated 60,000 illegals are expected to register for the amnesty, citing figures provided by representatives of the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Philippines embassies in Muscat.



By A Correspondent

Published: Thu 30 Apr 2015, 1:11 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:54 PM

Muscat - Thousands of undocumented expatriates living and working illegally in Oman are expected to take advantage of a government pledge to pardon all fines and legal penalties if they voluntarily turn themselves in and exit the country.

The amnesty, announced by the Omani Ministry of Manpower on Monday, runs from May 3 to July 30. Consular representatives from a number of Asian countries — which provide the bulk of Oman’s expatriate labour force — appealed to their compatriots to make the most of the opportunity.

Local newspapers have reported that an estimated 60,000 illegals are expected to register for the amnesty, citing figures provided by representatives of the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Philippines embassies in Muscat.

 However, scores of other undocumented expatriates may dodge the amnesty and take their chances with the authorities in order to escape desperate economic conditions back home. It appears that the amnesty has been deliberately staggered in order to allow for the handling of the tens of thousands of illegally residing expatriates to be duly processed before they are allowed to board flights home.  The Philippines Embassy in Muscat was quoted as saying the three-month amnesty applicable to its nationals was effective from April 1 to June 30.

The Embassy’s Labour Attache, Nasser Mustafa, reportedly said that the amnesty also grants foreigners the opportunity to regularise their status in line with the provisions of the Omani Labour Law.

Ahead of the amnesty announcement, guidelines were also issued by the Ministry of Manpower to labour attaches of foreign embassies in Muscat spelling out procedures for the registration of illegals.

Undocumented nationals of the Philippines, for example, have been asked to register at the Phillipine Overseas Labour Office (POLO), the Embassy said. Other guidelines listed by the ministry are as follows: “All required documents of overseas Filipino workers who want to avail of the amnesty programme shall be prepared by the POLO which will endorse it to the Oman Ministry of Manpower. Employers/sponsors of illegal workers will also be asked to comment in writing amnesty applications. If employers/sponsors fail to comply, the worker will be repatriated. Penalty for overstaying and money claims of employers’ expenses during the deployment of workers will be waived. All applicants will need to have themselves finger-printed, except children aged 18 years and below. Applicants whose documents were received by the Oman Ministry of Manpower must leave the Sultanate within one month.”

The Bangladeshi Embassy in Muscat is also gearing up to register thousands of its undocumented nationals in the coming days, a representative said. According to media reports, around 9,000 Bangladeshi workers have sought registrations so far.

Also preparing to sign up its nationals is the Pakistani Embassy which has already received several thousand registrations, a representative said. The Indian Embassy has opened a number of counters to handle registrations of its nationals. The Indians account for over a third of the estimated 1.7 million foreigners working in Oman. Social workers are also expected to help with the effort.

Hundreds of undocumented expatriate workers and infiltrators continue to be detained every week in regular crackdowns mounted by joint police and manpower inspection teams across Oman. -news@khaleejtimes.com


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