Despite the opening of the visa centre in Bangladesh, workers in the country have been unable to return to Doha to continue their employment.
Overcome with fear of losing their only source of income, hundreds of workers in Bangladesh protested outside the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday to demand a return to Qatar, local media reported.
The demonstrators called for authorities to accelerate the processing of applications to return to the Gulf state after months of remaining in limbo, Bangladeshi media Bdnews24 reported.
According to the local news outlet, around 12,000 Bangladeshi workers who work in Qatar are struggling to return to the country due to the delayed processing of their Exceptional Entry Permit, some of which have been rejected.
“I returned to the country [Bangladesh] 10 months ago. I will lose my job in Qatar if I can’t return by February. I have submitted my documents to the foreign ministry twice for a re-entry visa, but they are not issuing my visa,” Abdul Karim, one of the protesters, told Bdnews24.
The report suggested their return is being delayed “due to negligence” from the Bangladesh embassy in Qatar.
Doha News reached out to the embassy in Qatar for comments, but it has yet to respond.
The protest in Dhaka took place just a day before Qatar announced the reopening of its Visa Centre in Bangladesh on Wednesday. The centre is now expected to receive applications from Bangladeshi planning to travel to the Gulf state.
In October, Qatar’s Minister of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs Yousuf Mohamed Al Othman said authorities would issue an “Exceptional Entry Permit” for Bangladeshi expats stuck abroad, according to reports.
During a meeting held between the Qatari Minister and Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Qatar Md Jashim Uddin, the Bengaldeshi official provided a list of migrant workers that were awaiting re-entry.
But until now, the workers await a response from their embassy.
In November, Qatar eased the controversial entry permit measures for residents traveling abroad. Residents currently in Qatar with plans to travel and return to the country can easily obtain an Exceptional Entry Permit (EEP) at any time.
However, the new automatic EEP service does not apply to residents that have already travelled out of Qatar.
Residents currently abroad must still apply for the EEP, as usual, via the Qatar Portal website.