Bangladeshis told to apply for MRPs to avoid last-minute rush

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Bangladesh’s diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia have called on their nationals to apply for machine-readable passports (MRPs) as soon as possible to avoid last minute rush. “In fact, the Embassy of Bangladesh in Riyadh and its consulate in Jeddah have already issued about 275,000 MRPs so far,” said Mohammed Khairul Alam, spokesman of the embassy, on Thursday.

Reminding Bangladeshis residing in Saudi Arabia that the handwritten passports will not be valid after 2015, Alam, also a counsellor, said: “The embassy has processed the MRPs for about 600 persons, who came to the mission on Thursday alone.” The Bangladesh government has moved to provide MRPs to about 1.5 million Bangladeshis currently residing in Saudi Arabia, most of them in the labor category.

The Bangladesh government has announced that the handwritten passports have to be replaced by MRPs by November 2015, as per the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

About the fee being charged from the menial workers of Bangladesh for issuing MRPs, Alam said: “The diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia are charging SR125 to issue MRPs under labor category, but we are charging SR450 from professionals like doctors and engineers.”

He pointed out the embassy collects SR850 to issue an MRP under the “express” category.

According to him, the issuance of MRPs to such a large expatriate population who are scattered all over the Kingdom poses a major problem. “And if the MRPs cannot be provided to the Bangladeshi workers by the deadline, they will face several problems, including return to their country.”

The Bangladesh Home Ministry said it would not be possible to provide MRPs to the huge number of Bangladeshis through its embassy in Saudi Arabia before the deadline. “Expatriates live in different regions of the Kingdom and it would be difficult for them to come to the embassy in Riyadh to collect MRPs,” the embassy said in a statement.

So, the Home Ministry made the proposal to provide them with MRPs at a nominal charge with the help of the outsourcing company in addition to the normal fee.

The total number of expatriate Bangladeshis living and working abroad is about 10 million or more. According to official sources, the department of immigration and passport (DIP) of Bangladesh has already selected a Malaysian firm through a tender process to award the job of MRP distribution among Bangladeshi expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

As per the proposal, the Malaysian firm, IRIS Corporation Berhad, which is now engaged in preparing MRPs under another project, will set up six application processing centers (APCs) in six areas in Saudi Arabia, where most of the expatriate Bangladeshis are living.

Of the APCs, three will be set up in Riyadh and three in Jeddah. Some 20 mobile teams will also be engaged by the IRIS Corporation to collect the data of Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia.

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