Minister of Labor Adel Fakieh recently said that his ministry was exploring ways to end the menace of visa trade. He broached the possibility of involving the Prosecution and Investigation Commission to prevent forgery of official documents to issue employment visas.
Fakieh said if trading in visas has become a form of human trafficking, then it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. He also urged the members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Hai’a) to inform the ministry if they noticed any violation of rules with regard to shops selling women’s accessories.
The first thing I want to draw the minister’s attention to is the fact that the visa trade has reached human trafficking proportions a long time ago, and now it has become a common and familiar issue.
Citizens find that the easiest way to hire a worker or housemaid is to approach well-known visa traders and pay them a fixed amount, instead of resorting to the legal route which is complicated and time-consuming.
How did these traders manage to obtain legal work visas in the first place? There are two possibilities. The first is well-known and I don’t want to speak about it.
The second is through contracting companies. When a company is awarded a new contract, it is allowed to hire hundreds of workers. Upon completion of the project, the contractor engages in trading their workers, and when it wins another contract, it recruits new workers.
Therefore, the Ministry of Labor must take a written pledge from contracting companies to send back their workers upon completion of the projects. Work visas should not be issued to these contractors for new projects if they fail to send back their workers after completion of projects awarded to them earlier.
There should also be restrictions on transfer of sponsorship of such workers. Contracting companies that recruit hundreds of workers and allow them to find other jobs after completion of their projects should be banned from transferring sponsorship of their workers.
As part of efforts to curb the visa trade, the recruitment of foreign workers by citizens must be simplified so that they would not rely on visa traders to get around the complicated procedures. The plan to set up big companies to import foreign labor is likely to put an end to this problem. Citizens can lend a helping hand by hiring workers from these companies instead of approaching the visa traders.