Bahrain will be the first country in the GCC to allow foreigners to live and work in the kingdom without a sponsor. Undocumented migrants are now able to apply for a flexible permit that allows them to work for more than one employer in a full or part-time non-professional job. Workers will receive a “Blue Card” renewable every six months, which they must keep on them at all times, and are able to exit and re-enter the country at will.
The program is limited in reach at present, with 2,000 workers able to obtain the flexible permit each month. The high cost - BD 449 (USD 1190) every two years and BD 30 (USD 80) in monthly fees - is likely to limit access to the permits. Migrants must also have their passports in their possession to apply for the permit, a condition which can be difficult for workers who have left their employers to meet. Nonetheless, the system offers a much needed and much sought after safety valve for many workers.
Individuals can determine if they are eligible for the permit by visiting the LMRA’s website or sending a text message to +97333150150 with the number of their identity card. Further details are available on the on the LMRA's website.
Bahrain Trade Union's secretariat and spokesman Karim Radhi earlier spoke to MR about the benefits and limitations of the flexible permit system.