By APD writer Melo M. Acuna
MANILA, Nov.8 (APD) -- The Philippine government through its Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the launch of the so-called Flexi-Visa program by the Bahrain government as it will benefit some 3,000 undocumented Filipino migrants there.
It was learned the program was launched last Monday, November 5 and will also benefit domestic workers who fled from their employers prior to November 1, 2018.
“After a series of quiet negotiations and discussions, Bahrain’s Labor Marketing Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced for the first time that those runaway domestic workers in the country will now be covered by the Flexi-Visa program,” thus said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola in a statement from Manama.
She said “this is in line with the DFA’s efforts to seek pathways for regularization of our OFWs in the implementation of the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte to spare no effort to protect our nationals overseas,” she added during the launch and distribution of the Flexi-Visa or “blue cards” to Filipino beneficiaries.
The regularization program is unique to Bahrain and a first in the Middle East as it addresses the vulnerabilities associated with domestic work.
Some 120 Filipinos received their “blue cards” during the launch with another 42 expected to receive theirs in a matter of days. There are now 267 previously undocumented Filipinos in Bahrain who have received their visas.
The DFA said through the Philippine Embassy in Manama, they covered the cost of payment of the visa fee and the first two monthly administrative fee for the Filipinos who initially availed of the program.
Undersecretary Arriola extended her appreciation to the Bahraini Government for the initiative, as it provides a way for Filipino workers to regularize their status.
The Flexi-Visa is essentially a residence and work permit made available for those who have no legal immigration status in Bahrain. It is renewable every two years, covers health insurance, and return ticket once the contract period has ended, or when the migrant worker wants to return to his country of origin.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)