Visa crisis hitting hiring and business, say resorts

Major resort operators in the Maldives have expressed serious concern with the country’s escalating visa crisis, claiming a failure to resolve the ongoing problems is leading to an inability to hire critical foreign personnel and stranding existing workers in the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, management for several exclusive resort properties in the Maldives expressed alarm that inefficiencies processing visas were not only preventing the hiring of foreign workers, but also preventing staff from being able to leave the country.

These concerns were aired as the Department of Immigration expressed confidence it would be able to clear a backlog of visa documentation for foreign workers, during an 11 day period in which it would not be accepting new applications.

Immigration authorities said the halt was necessary to improve service by clearing a backlog of documents uploaded online, however multiple resorts accused the department of being “inefficient” and “sporadic”.

A senior representative for one multinational group operating properties across the country said the company’s human resources team had raised issues with immigration not accepting visa applications between August 8 to August 18.

The source said the concerns reflected a wider problem with hiring foreign staff. The company said the delays had forced it to delay hiring vital staff, which was impacting the guest experience.

The general manager of another exclusive resort agreed that a failure to address ongoing problems obtaining visas for foreign nationals remained a “real issue”.

“We have staff members whose visas have now expired who cannot leave the country for various reasons such as annual leave, and sometimes really serious issues,” the manager said.

The source claimed that services provided by the country’s immigration department was “sporadic”, with individual applications taking an unpredictable amount of time to be processed.

“This all needs to be done by one government department instead of three, and the entire system needs less people working more efficiently,” the manager added.

The resort source said the decision of immigration authorities to suspend new applications for work visas for 11 days this month had hampered efforts to recruit needed staff during the busy Eid period.

Public sector

Despite the concerns raised by private employers, Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Geela Ali said state authorities had been consulted by immigration authorities in advance of not accepting visa applications.

Geela said that as a major employer of foreigners, both the health and education ministries had been given a period of two to three days to fast track any urgent requests for expatriate labour in order to minimise impacts to their operations while the visa system was “repaired”.

She added that while there would still be some difficulties for the ministries due to the ongoing work by immigration officials, the work was anticipated to allow for a more efficient visa system after completion.

Immigration Department Spokesperson Ibrahim Ashraf told Minivan News that the expat online system remained functional this week, although users would be unable to submit any visa applications for processing.

“Thousands of documents have been uploaded and there seem to be a number of counterfeit documents among these,” he said. “We are confident this this backlog will be cleared and new staff have also now been trained to oversee work going forward.”

The immigration department has previously announced that it would be hiring 30 staff to help oversee a comprehensive audit of the visa system.

Ashraf claimed that there was particular concern about business and individual applicants looking to obtain a foreign worker quota or visa by uploading documents that were either incorrect, irrelevant or fraudulent .

Immigration officials earlier this year dismissed reports of a “flaw” in the country’s online expatriate registration system, instead expressing concern that the technology was open to abuse by registered companies.

The Immigration Department confirmed at the time that authorities faced challenges in verifying whether construction projects were real, or a front to smuggle foreign labour into the country, but told Minivan News it had expected to resolve the issue by July.

Trapped in the Maldives

Minivan News has in recent months been informed of a growing number expatriates working in both the public and private sector who have been stranded in the Maldives by immigration authorities due to a failure of state and private employers to renew visa documentation.


21 thoughts on “Visa crisis hitting hiring and business, say resorts”

  1. Visa crisis is a nice name given to a process that's effectively human trafficking and slavery.

    Nice job!

  2. Wasn't this the same place from which thousands of rufiyaa went missing the other day? What on earth is going on ?

  3. No one seems to be in charge here!
    The buck is being passed.
    If someone's visa or work permit is in processing stage and if that someone wanted to travel in earnest; there is a solution, but with no guarantee!

  4. Actually we shall tighten work visa to expat workers till our unemployment figures increase. Its not that Maldivians are lazy or unqualified, but they are heavily disadvantaged in resorts. Expats are also human beings who have brothers who need jobs back at home. That's one reason why they have flooded the Maldives job market.

    So this is a good thing actually.
    What we need now is to make resort industry 90% local employed for the economy to pickup. We need serious patriots to do this.

  5. Why Health min PS Geela commenting on education ministry. And in a politicized matter ?

  6. Let's reflect on this. We had around 2000 foreign labourers entering the country per week. That's around 8000 a month or just under 100,000 a year! We are effectively annihilating the local population with foreigners and these "businesses" still cry about lack of labour?

    What the f*ck is going on? Is anyone in charge here?

  7. A country like the United Kingdom with a population of 70 million is finding 100,000 immigrants a year far too much and trying to bring that down to tens of thousands.

    Here we have a tiny spec of a country in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with a population of less than half a million, importing 100,000 foreigners a year! Something has gone totally, absolutely t**s up!

  8. Resorts are businesses. Unless they make profits they go bankrupt. They have to employ best person available with the skills needed for that job at a wage they can afford.
    True, expats bring their relatives. Resorts must see there is no family connection when choosing expats.Too many people from one family working in one place not good.

  9. human being, you are seriously delusional. Immigration is not restricting the issue of work visas on purpose, they are screwing up the entire process due to laziness, incompetence and complete indifference. Basically the standard experience whenever Maldivians are left to run an operation.

    Expats have flooded the job market because most Maldivians are NOT qualified for skilled labor and too lazy to do manual labor. The mess at immigration perfectly illustrates this point. This country's survival is based on foreign labor, skilled and unskilled. And this place barely functions as it is because you always have Maldivians getting in the way of someone actually trying to get a job done properly. Immigration is screwed up beyond belief and it will take a group of foreigners to straighten the whole mess out eventually. But I do believe Maldivians should be given priority for jobs, if they actually have the educational qualifications and a work ethic. But employers don't need to pay salaries to people who just want to call in sick every other day, take 2 hour lunches and 3 coffee breaks (I mean prayer time) a day. And I can't even imagine 5 star resorts trying to please their guests with a 90% Maldivian employee force. No eye contact, no verbal communication (except for grunts), no information, always running out of something, never repairing broken things, etc. Yes please! Let me pay $500 plus a night for a real Maldivian resort experience.

  10. @ UHhoh
    You are using a very common negative stereotype of Maldivians much overused by expatriates. Sure there are lazy local workers who break for coffee 3 times during office hours. But that happens when they are not motivated and underpaid. Employers who pay decent salaries never have this problem with lazy workers why?

    As for qualifications in resorts, most (99%) resorts do not have a way and do not do any background checks sometimes because expats come with connections to their buddies already in work place. I know this for a fact and i have come across many such expats with huge bundle of fake papers to support their claim to knowledge.

    Anni also fell in to this lie about qualifications. That's why he started the failed hunaru program and that's why it went nowhere. Qualification is not not always about paper. Its about ability and knowledge. Employers (in theory) need ability not fake papers.

    I know a European marketing director of a large hotel group here who is responsible for the whole Asia region whose only academic papers consists of A level papers. Results and ability, not

  11. From what 2 can gather there is a serious issue regarding certain Maldivians two to z months after being employed just disappear. Apparently left to their Island without any notice whatsoever.

    1 have heard very specific stories from two different employers, offering while collar as well as blue collar jobs.

  12. Indians seeking employment in the Maldives should pay particular attention to the last paragraph 'Trapped in the Maldives'.
    Dear countrymen.....I mean Indians not Maldivians.....the immigration system of the Maldives is in a complete bloody mess so you should be careful about applying for jobs in this screwed up country. Your passport will be confiscated on arrival by some thuggish local mafiosi, your employment terms will be broken willy nilly and your visa will take FOREVER AND A DAY to be processed. You also need an exit visa to return home so you could be stuck on some remote godforsaken atoll for months with only the local drug addicts for company.....scary scary eh?
    You will also be denied freedom of worship because the Maldives is a 100% muslim country.....god help you if you are a cow worshipper like me or a sikh, christian or buddhist.
    My advice dear brothers is to AVOID, AVOID, AVOID THE MALDIVES.

  13. @ human being

    "common negative stereotype".. why don't you go speak to some Maldiivan Resort owners and owners of other busineeses.

    They loathe recruiting maldivians if they had the choice they will not recruite a single.
    Maldivians are dis honest, unfirednly, cannot communicate, illiterate and most important have no work ethic.. its not about motivation and salary... I see this even in the industries where we work where we recruite so called "qualified" maldivians...

    Dishonesty is rampant... Work ethic is unheard of .. oh the coffee breaks...

    some of the excuses .. I fell asleep could not come to work.... my mother got a heart attack: the next day the employee needs leave to go with her mother who presumably got the heart attack the day before !!

    I can write reams of such wanton lies...

    For every Maldivian you recruite you need an additional expat to cover their workloads...

    Receipie for disaster if maldivians are recruited in resorts ..or any other industry for that matter... you should impose MAXIMUM quotas of recruiting Maldivians to a single company.

  14. You want to get rid of skilled expats because they are taking up the jobs of skilled locals? Who will do your job if you employ only skilled locals and most of them shirk duty due to the various excuses some have already rightly pointed out (could not wake up, did not sleep last night, don't feel well, mother/father/brother/sister/husband/wife/child sick and I am the only one who can take care)?
    The Employment Act is meant to encourage their laziness: 30 days leave, 30 days sick leave (average 2/3 per month for the common Maldivian), emergency leaves in case parents fall sick (of course the whole family need to stay at home or go to hospital even if its just a pimple ),...
    Change that lazy culture and develop a professional conscience!!!

  15. Government apathy and cultural barriers to productivity, not even going into work ethic.

  16. Maldivian in general are lazy and they don't want to earn without working.
    But there are good Maldivian workers who are earning good income and those people have jobs.

    People who are jobless are drug addicts and criminal and we do not want these people to get engaged in our offices.

    We can not run this country without foreigner and our economy will run with them.

    I do not believe that we have 2000 workers coming every week and these figures are misleading .

    Many of these people are people who returning from thier leaves and the figure is much less than this.

    Also there are large number of expatriates leaving the country on thier vacation every week and those figures are not in the light at all.

  17. @those who think negatively about locals.
    Just checkout the best 5 or 6 hoteliers in JobMaldives and ask the hr what they think about local workers. You will find they will take qualified locals any moment over expats because of many reasons. Don't make your lazy assumptions. Its about pay scale and benefits. The better is the pay the more reason for people to work hard. Maldivians cannot work hard and expect 3000 rufiya per month. Its just is not worthwhile the efforts. Same goes for expats. Expats here also do not work for 70$ compared to the popular myth. Nobody works at that range anymore. Just update your figures!

  18. @ human being
    the resorts I mentioned are the top end resorts and owners loath having to recruite maldivians.
    Its not about pay grade.. we pay circa USD 850 plus overtime (outside the hotel industry) for basic level joiners.. no degrees / work experience.

    For mid range managers circa $2000/-

    and my comments are very applicable .. Maldivians are lazy, have no work ethic whatsoever, dishonest to the core.. and not willing to learn.....
    The excuses of not being able to work / not turning up are beyond reason...

    No wonder this country is in dire straights, economically, socially and mentally..

  19. @Bearded..
    For your info The top 5 resorts in Maldives are not run by their 'owners'. They are all managed by foreign companies. Let me name some,


  20. @Bearded- while I am not agreeing to say, generally Maldivians are all lazy, have no work ethic etc- you will find just more of them showing this kind of "qualities" hence you are more careful when hiring.

    Every resort, if high or low, top or not top, would love to hire Maldivians just for the simple reason that then they dont have to think of the whole visa process(let alone most probably more benefitis, higher salary, and LOTS of complains as soon as the person arrives) - BUT: Many Maldivians are as of now not skilled enough and dont want to be to do certain jobs. No chance of it and if they think they are- well think again and compare your so called skills to someone who is then hired.

    However I do agree on the workload and laws in regards to leave, which is just irrational! Looking back to the rest of the world, it has become customary practice to actually check how many days off sick was a person and the average re in the UK is 6.5.... PER YEAR! Show me ONE maldivian who has that...

    @human being - I would not count Centara as such for the top 5 resorts...


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