Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bahrain stepped up restrictions on walk-in visas as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants

In addition to the new rules introduced earlier this year regarding on-the-spot entry permits for expatriates, walk-in visitors to the Kingdom are now also being asked more questions before they are allowed into the country, General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence human and financial resources director Nayef Al Sherooqi told the Gulf Daily News (GDN) paper.
New rules were introduced earlier this year stating expatriate residents from GCC countries were no longer allowed on-the-spot entry permits unless they fell into senior management, professional or business categories, the daily said.Authorities said they were forced to restrict access because of cheats who use such visas to slip into Bahrain and stay on illegally, it added.
"This may have led to some nationals of countries who are allowed visas on arrival being turned away at Bahrain entry points," Al Sherooqi said."There is no change in the nationalities allowed in after getting visas on arrival but we are now asking questions under new rules that were implemented in February,” he told GDN."New rules are being enforced to keep a check on who enters Bahrain, rather than them just walking in."
As per the rules, visitors from 36 countries will be given walk-in visas by showing a return ticket, proof of enough money to cover their stay and a recognised address.
New questions visitors have to answer where they will be staying during their visit and if they have enough funds to support the length of their stay, GDN said,
They were earlier allowed in without those questions being asked, it added.According to Gulf Daily News, the 36 countries include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Japan.
Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, the US and the Vatican are also included."We are sure we are not rejecting any bona fide visitor," Al Sherooqi told the daily.