The United Arab Emirates has imposed restrictions on renewal and issuance of work visas to the Bangladeshis, said recruiting agencies and visa seekers.
Bangladesh's Consul General Abu Zafar in Dubai said they had been receiving such reports for two weeks but the UAE authorities were yet to officially inform them about it.
"We got some reports from Bangladeshi employers here that the authorities were rejecting visa applications. However, big employers of the Emirates have not made any such complaints yet," he told The Daily Star over the phone on Thursday.
"Unless we learn it officially, we cannot say it is a restriction on Bangladeshi workers," he added.
However, the reasons behind the reported restrictions could not be known as government offices are yet to fully function after Eid-ul-Fitr.
The UAE, which now hosts about 10 lakh Bangladeshi workers, the second highest number after Saudi Arabia, has been a sustained labour market for the last couple of years despite the global economic recession.
Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) said it also received complaints that the UAE authorities were not renewing visas of the Bangladeshis working under Emirates companies.
However, visa renewal is on for the workers in foreign companies there.
"But issuing of new visas for Bangladeshis is also slow," Baira executive member Hasan Ahamed Chowdhury told The Daily Star, adding that it would take a few more days to know what was actually happening.
According to him, the Bangladesh government needs to act promptly to figure out why such restrictions have been imposed on the workers. "This is urgent because the UAE is now recruiting the highest number of workers."
Labour and Employment Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said in many cases the employers hired more workers than were needed, eventually leading to loss of jobs or underemployment.
In each of the last eight months, some 25-30 thousand Bangladeshi workers left for the UAE, he added.
The minister, however, said the UAE government was yet to inform Bangladesh about the restrictions. Dhaka will send a team to the UAE to look into the matter.
An official at the Bangladesh consulate general in Dubai said in many cases workers do not get salaries they were promised. Under such situations many workers change jobs and become irregular.
"Such irregularities might be the reasons behind the restrictions," he told The Daily Star, requesting anonymity.
About 90 lakh Bangladeshis work abroad and send home about $12 billion per year.
In 2008, Saudi Arabia went slow on recruiting workers from Bangladesh, saying too many Bangladeshis were there.
The following year, Malaysia put a freeze on recruitment from Bangladesh. It has recently decided to hire workers from Bangladesh, but is yet to finalise the procedure.