Irregular foreign workers, including Bangladeshis, in United Arab Emirates (UAE) can return home by paying a small amount of money due to a recent unofficial amnesty granted by the Gulf nation.
Generally irregular foreign workers are arrested and imprisoned for overstaying their visas or changing jobs without maintaining proper residency documents.
"The irregular workers would have to pay the immigration authorities only 320 Dirham to get a travel pass from the Bangladesh missions in order to leave the country," said Bangladesh's Consul General in Dubai Dr Abu Zafar over phone yesterday.
One Dirham is approximately Tk 22.32.
If irregular foreign workers do not take advantage of the amnesty, they will be fined as much as 20 Dirhams for each day they illegally stay in UAE, said Zafar.
There are workers who have been irregular for over one year and they will have to pay a huge fine if they do not take advantage of the amnesty while there is time available, he said.
The authorities there, however, have not mentioned when the amnesty period would end, he added.
The oil-rich Gulf nation, which is heavily dependent on foreign workers, thinks it now has too many illegal migrants and so took such a decision that has been in effect for the past several weeks but has clarified only recently through a local media, he said.
There was, however, no official declaration about the amnesty, the diplomat said.
"I would encourage Bangladeshi workers in the Emirates to take advantage of the facility, because otherwise the fine will be very high," Abu Zafar said.
Asked if the Bangladeshi workers are taking up the opportunity, he said around 150 to 200 workers were visiting the consulate office in Dubai every day to attain travel permits.
According to the consulate, there are an estimated one million Bangladeshi workers in the UAE. It, however, could not say for sure the number of irregular ones.
UAE has tightened visas for Bangladeshi workers for the past one month. It is also maintaining a strict policy for Bangladeshis changing their jobs from one company to another, Bangladesh Ambassador to UAE Nazmul Quaunine told The Daily Star last week.
Authorities in that country told him that they found irregularities in the foreign labour recruitment and too many migrants were irregular.
"Therefore, they needed to rectify the sector," Quaunine said.