Hundreds of stranded Saudi returnees yet again gathered in front of Saudi Airlines office in Dhaka on Thursday, demanding return tickets and an extension of the validity of their re-entry visas.
They are seeking auto renewal of their re-entry visas without submitting any additional clearance from their employers – a condition that the Saudi government imposed recently.
On top of their ongoing struggle for getting return tickets, renewal of visas has become a new headache for stranded Saudi returnees in Bangladesh.
As they would not get tickets without valid visas and Iqama, hundreds of Saudi returnees gathered before the Saudi Airlines office at the capital's Karwan Bazar, and demanded relaxation of the condition to renew re-entry visas and tickets before expiration of their Iqama.
The visas of many Saudi returnees expired on September 30, and now they are trying to get the required documents from their employers to extend the validity of re-entry visas, said sources.
Following a request from the foreign ministry of Bangladesh, the Saudi authorities extended the validity of Iqama of stranded Bangladeshi migrants by 24 days, starting from October 1.
The Saudi government has extended the validity of visa and Iqama automatically for Bangladesh citizens three times so far. The facility was available to expats who became stranded in Bangladesh due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now, the returnees are required by the Saudi government to submit some documents from their employers to renew their re-entry visas.
For re-entry visa extension, a worker needs a letter from his employer for the extension of leave attested by the Saudi foreign ministry, a photocopy of valid Iqama, and another letter from the Saudi Arabia's General Directorate of Passports.
The returnees have been protesting for since September 16 for tickets to go back to their workplaces in the country.
All these documents would have to be provided by the employers to the returnees and they will then have to submit the documents to visa processing agencies in Bangladesh.
Over one lakh Bangladeshi expats became stranded here after returning from abroad amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Around 80% of them are Saudi returnees, according to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira).