Protesters outside immigration call for resignation of Controller following work permit rejections

A group of 50 protesters gathered outside the Immigration Department today demanding the resignation of Immigration Controller Abdulla Shahid, claiming that immigration staff were refusing to accept work permit documents issued by the Human Resources Ministry.

“They refused to accept documents that were issued last week, because last night the Immigration Department announced that the document’s name had changed from ‘Work Permit Document’ to “Employment Approval Document,” one protester said. “These documents they refused to accept were issued last week – when they make such an announcement all of a sudden, what can we do about it?’’ he asked.

The protesters claimed the arrival of expatriate workers would be delayed because of the name change.

“When they refused to accept these documents we cannot pay for the deposit fee, the payment receipt and the immigration approval stamp and the work permit card,” he said. “So now we will have to delay the arrival of expat workers expected to here earlier.”

The protesters also complained that only 15 queue numbers were being issued every day for work permit cards, “so only the first 15 persons who go near the Immigration Department get to apply for the work permit cards. After breaking fast, around 7:30 pm we have to go near the department and line up until it opens the next day at 9:00am,” he claimed.

An investigation into endemic human trafficking and abuse of the work permit system ordered by the government last month, and saw front line immigration and human resources ministry staff replaced by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) for two weeks.

Immigration authorities have previously speculated that of the 100,000 expatriate workers in the country, up to half may have entered the country illegally. Preliminary findings from the investigation last month unearthed a web of paper companies and ministerial corruption suggesting an industry worth upwards of US$123 million.

“People have been creating fraudulent companies and using them to apply for fraudulent work permit quotas, and then diverting these quotas to keep bringing in illegal workers,” said President Nasheed’s Spokesperson, Mohamed Zuhair, at the time.

“A would-be worker [overseas] pays money and ends up here on fraudulent papers obtained by a bogus agent, from quotas at a non-existent company,” Zuhair said. “Sometimes they are expected to work for 3-4 years to make the payment – workers have told police that this is often as much as US$2000.”

Police Sub-inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police had monitored the situation as the crowd gathered.

”No arrests have been made, but police were active in the area,” Shiyam said.

Immigration Controller Shahid was not responding to calls at time of press. Assistant Controller Ibrahim Naseer said he was unable to comment on the matter or provide an alternative contact at the department as he was on holiday.


12 thoughts on “Protesters outside immigration call for resignation of Controller following work permit rejections”

  1. Hilarious! Seriously! All the fuss is because a document issued from one entity of the Maldivian government is not accepted by another Maldivian government entity!

    I am just speechless and is ridiculous! What on earth can the public do? This is unacceptable and these silly things has to be rectified by the government. People need to go about daily businesses and earn a living.

    Anni and the fellow monks! Do something and please make things working. FDA is another matter I tell you!

    And Ahmed Nazeer, today's protest has nothing to do with human trafficking or anything of that sort .. what so ever .. It's just about government incompetence!!

  2. You can never win with people who oppose this government. They whine about Male been overcrowded with expatriates and they whine when measures are taken to control the situation.

    Even if it's a matter of a form, why should Immigration except it when they have announced that they are using another form. It's through being careless about little things like this that big issues come up.

    Above all, in which country is the Immigration department and Immigration laws that easy. I'd rather Immigration department process 15 forms a day thoroughly than give visa blindly.

    Well done Shahid. Keep up the good work.

  3. "The protesters claimed the arrival of expatriate workers would be delayed because of the name change."

    Good I say! Let's not just delay it, but ban it altogether. This country is bursting with bloody low skilled foreigners.

    The Immigration Department should make the process even more difficult and frustrating. We don't give a rat's arse to 50 or so nutters going crazy. The majority of the country do not want to see any more foreigners on this soil.

    I'd say that even 15 queue numbers are too generous. Reduce that to 5! We can learn a thing or two from our neighbours such as India and others where the best way to snuff these activities is layer upon layer of bureaucracy.

    Very well done to the Immigration Department and the Controller. Stand your ground by all means.

  4. Today’s protest is about human trafficking; why can’t these strikers employ the locals. Of cause Maldivians will not work US$ 100 per month for 14 hours per day for 30 or 31 days per month.
    Shahid I thank you to doing a good job.

  5. Ineed, hassan ahmed. At the rate of 15 permits a day, that's 75 permits per week and 300 per month. That 300 low skilled labourers per month entering the country permanently! There's no chance that these people will ever leave.

    That's way too much anyway. The Controller can do all of us a favour and just shut the gates for ANY low skilled labourer. We already have enough of them for us to last another 100 years.

  6. Stupid DB Shahid,

    Even Immigration Officers realize these type of stories in News paper , the new rules and regulation, but i dont think he understand what immigration needs to improve the service, Immigration need a system that can help for work visa and Border that was the advice given by MNDF, but this guy does not want to talk about this because he is afraid that Nexbis will come and start work ha ha ha ha

  7. So these protestors may be the same people involved in human trafficking then?
    Looks like Shahid is trying to put a stop to this and they do not like it?
    Anything to stop this human trafficking and open importation of foreign labour is a good thing.

  8. to mend the mistakes due to years of carelessness and incompetence now all the honestly working companies get penalized, while all the persons that for years have pocketed huge amounts are free to go and spend the ill-gotten profits. Excellent

  9. Reality is Maldives needs expatriates. Imagine Maldives without the expat doctors, teachers, construction workers, the "Bangalhi" who work repairing the roads, and doing all the odd jobs we take for granted because somebody is doing it while the "Maldivian beyfulhun" is enjoying a cup of Lavazza at some cafe' ! The problem is not with the expats, but because the authorities have failed to regulate and control expats working illegally here in Maldives.

    The issue between the Labour Ministry and the Department of Immigration & Em migration shows the failure of the two government offices to coordinate and work together for a common objective. Immigration Department wants the Labor Ministry to issue a document named "Employment Approval" prior to expat's arrival to Male' as per their gazetted regulation dated 17th April 2010. But the Labor Ministry holds the view that the Regulation of the Labor Ministry gazetted somewhere this year makes the "Employment Approval" invalid and they will issue a document, "Work Permit" instead. Both these documents (EA, and WP) serves the same purpose though, and there is no exit to this problem as of today, and those who have projects going, and those who need to bring in the Doctors and people whom we need urgently have to just sit and wait!

    I am also surprised how Minivan News label all expatriates working in Maldives as "trafficked" and all employers and employment agents guilty of human trafficking. This is like generalizing saying all importers of goods to Maldives are smugglers!

  10. The protests at immigration was fueled and orchestrated by the politicians behind this bogus companies obtaining quotas using counterfeit papers or ghost companies in order to get media attention diverted. Mr. Hassan, advisor Ibrahim, and his brother hussain is mail. It's time I ve started to salute you for being real Asian politicians with your cunning ideology, I salute you for that diversion of media interest. How ever since I am some one who seeks immigration assistance in obtaining work visa the 15 numbers , foe every token they issue serves 50 passports. It's not just 15 applications , I would call the gov to provide Immig with the capacity to deal with the huge demand by staff equipment and a facility . I also wonder what has this got to do with human trafficking ,

  11. O president first I thought it was an issue with controller ilyas , no no now I believe ilyas was right , who ever the controller is who ever the home minister is now I am referring to 4 high level trust worthy gov officials . All of them cannot be wrong , to name minister shihab , ilyas, shahid, minister afeef vs minister Hassan latheef .you could change portfolio to any one and keep Hassan latheef on one side . The case shall proceed from bad to worse which will initially cloud the government .


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