Immigration Policies in Bahrain

1. What is the current stance of Bahrain on immigration policies?

The current stance of Bahrain on immigration policies is primarily focused on attracting skilled workers and investors, while also addressing issues related to undocumented workers.

Bahrain has implemented several policies to streamline the process for obtaining work permits and visas for foreign workers. These include an e-visa system and a flexible work permit system that allows employers to hire workers directly without going through sponsorship agencies. The country also offers a fast-track visa option for skilled professionals in high-demand industries.

In terms of undocumented workers, the government has taken steps to regularize their status, such as a recent amnesty program that allowed undocumented individuals to legalize their status or leave the country without facing penalties.

Additionally, Bahrain has implemented measures to combat illegal immigration, including stricter border controls and penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers.

Overall, Bahrain’s immigration policies aim to balance the needs of the local economy with ensuring fair and humane treatment of foreign workers.

2. How has Bahrain’s immigration policies changed in the past 10 years?

Bahrain’s immigration policies have undergone significant changes in the past 10 years. Some of the notable changes include:

1. Introduction of a new residency sponsorship system: In 2008, Bahrain implemented a new sponsorship system for expatriates, called the Flexi Permit System. This allowed foreigners to work and reside in Bahrain without being tied to a specific employer. The system was introduced to reduce visa trading and provide more freedom to expatriate workers.

2. E-visa system: In 2016, Bahrain launched an electronic visa system which allows travelers from over 100 countries to apply for visas online. This has streamlined the visa application process and made it easier for tourists and business travelers to enter Bahrain.

3. Reforms in labor market regulations: In 2017, Bahrain introduced reforms in its labor market regulations aimed at protecting foreign workers’ rights and improving their working conditions. These included setting a minimum wage, limiting fees charged by recruitment agencies, and allowing workers to switch jobs without their employer’s permission after completing their contract period.

4. Tightening of visa issuance rules: In recent years, Bahrain has tightened its visa issuance rules for certain nationalities deemed as high-risk or security threats. This includes travel restrictions for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

5. Introducing dependent fee: In 2018, Bahrain introduced a fee for foreign dependents living in the country with their sponsors (usually expatriate workers). This fee is part of the government’s efforts to boost revenues amid falling oil prices but has been criticized for putting financial strain on low-income families.

6. Streamlined naturalization process: Under new amendments made in 2009, Bahrain streamlined its naturalization process for foreigners who have lived in the country for more than 15 years and contributed significantly to its economy or society.

7. Increased deportations: In recent years, there have been reports of increased deportations of expatriate workers who violate immigration laws or work without proper documentation. This has been seen as a stricter approach towards enforcing immigration regulations.

Overall, Bahrain’s immigration policies have become more complex and restrictive in recent years, with a focus on regulating and controlling the number of foreign workers in the country. However, efforts have also been made to improve the working conditions of foreign workers and attract skilled professionals through initiatives such as the new residency sponsorship system.

3. Does Bahrain have a merit-based or family-based immigration system?

Bahrain has primarily a merit-based immigration system, with employment-based visas being the most common way for individuals to enter the country. However, there is also a family-based visa category for close relatives of Bahraini citizens or foreign residents in the country.

Employment-based visas require individuals to have a job offer from a Bahraini employer and meet certain qualifications and experience requirements. They are subject to an annual quota system and are usually valid for two years.

Family-based visas are available for spouses, children, and dependent parents of Bahraini citizens or foreign residents in the country. These visas do not have restrictions on work or residence and are typically valid for renewable periods of one year.

Immigration rules and requirements in Bahrain can change at any time, so it is important to consult official government sources for the most up-to-date information.

4. Are refugees and asylum seekers welcome in Bahrain under the current immigration policies?

Bahrain does not have a specific policy addressing refugees and asylum seekers. However, the country is a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, which recognizes the principle of non-refoulement and prohibits sending back refugees to countries where their lives or freedom may be threatened. Therefore, theoretically, Bahrain should welcome and provide protection for refugees and asylum seekers.

However, in reality, Bahrain has been criticized for its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The country has strict immigration policies that prioritize the entry of skilled workers rather than those seeking protection. As a result, many refugees and asylum seekers face challenges when trying to enter or reside in Bahrain.

Additionally, there have been reports of harassment, detention, and forced deportation of refugees and asylum seekers by Bahraini authorities. In 2018, Amnesty International reported that dozens of individuals, including recognized refugees, were detained without charge in Bahrain’s migrant detention center. They were denied access to legal assistance and information about their detention status.

Moreover, Bahrain is not party to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. As a result, thousands of stateless individuals (known as “Bidoon”) living in Bahrain are often unable to access basic services such as education and healthcare.

In summary, while international law obligates Bahrain to provide protection for refugees and asylum seekers under certain circumstances, there are concerns about the country’s current immigration policies and treatment of these vulnerable groups. Therefore, it is important for Bahrain to review its policies towards refugees and asylum seekers to ensure that they receive adequate protection and assistance.

5. What are the requirements for obtaining a permanent resident status in Bahrain?

To obtain a permanent resident status in Bahrain, individuals must meet the following requirements:

1. Legal Entry: The applicant should have entered Bahrain through legal means with a valid visa or residence permit.

2. Residency Period: The applicant must have resided in Bahrain for at least 15 years, with no more than one continuous absence not exceeding six months during this period.

3. Age Requirement: The applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.

4. Clean Criminal Record: The applicant must have a clean criminal record and not have been convicted of any crime.

5. Financial Ability: The applicant must be financially stable and able to support themselves and their dependents without relying on government benefits.

6. Good Character and Conduct: The applicant must demonstrate good character and conduct, including being respectful of laws, customs, and traditions in Bahrain.

7. Knowledge of Arabic Language: Applicants should have a basic knowledge of the Arabic language and complete an advanced level language course provided by an accredited institution in Bahrain.

8. Medical Examinations: Applicants are required to undergo medical examinations to ensure they do not have any health conditions that could affect public health in Bahrain.

9. Fulfilling Supporting Documents Requirements: Applicants must provide all necessary supporting documents as per the Immigration Directorate’s regulations for permanent residency applications.

10. Approval from Relevant Authorities: The approval of relevant authorities is required before granting permanent residency status, such as the Ministry of Interior, Nationality, Passport & Residence Affairs (NPRA), and Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

6. How does Bahrain handle undocumented immigrants?

Bahrain does not have a clear and standardized policy for dealing with undocumented immigrants. In general, the government takes a strict approach towards immigration and seeks to prevent people from entering the country without proper documentation.

Undocumented immigrants in Bahrain may face arrest, detention, and deportation if caught by authorities. They may also be subject to fines or imprisonment for violating immigration laws.

The Bahraini government has been known to conduct raids and crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, particularly those working in low-skilled and informal sectors such as construction and domestic work. Such actions have been criticized by human rights organizations for leading to the exploitation of migrant workers and their families.

In recent years, there have been some efforts to address the issue of undocumented immigration in Bahrain. In 2016, a grace period was announced for undocumented workers to regularize their status or leave the country without facing penalties. However, this grace period was only applicable to certain sectors and did not guarantee protection from arrest or deportation.

In general, undocumented immigrants in Bahrain face many challenges due to their lack of legal status. They may be unable to access basic services such as healthcare and education, and they are vulnerable to exploitation by employers who take advantage of their illegal status.

Overall, it can be said that Bahrain’s approach towards handling undocumented immigrants is strict and focused on control rather than finding solutions that protect the rights of these individuals.

7. Are there any special provisions for skilled workers in Bahrain’s immigration policies?

Yes, Bahrain has special provisions for skilled workers in its immigration policies. The country offers different work visa categories for skilled workers depending on their occupation and skills. Some of these visa categories include:

1. Skilled Labor Visa: This visa is issued to workers with specialized skills or experience in certain professions such as engineering, healthcare, and information technology.

2. Temporary Work Permit: This permit is issued to foreign nationals who are employed by a company registered in Bahrain and have a valid employment contract.

3. Investor Visa: This visa is issued to foreign investors who wish to establish a business or invest in an existing business in Bahrain.

4. Highly Skilled Professional Work Permit: This permit is issued to individuals with exceptional skills or expertise in their field, such as top-level executives or professionals working in specialized industries.

In addition to these work visas, Bahrain also offers fast-track procedures for highly-skilled workers through its eVisa system, which allows them to obtain a visa within 24 hours. The country also has a points-based immigration system for skilled workers called the “SkillSelect” program, where applicants are assessed based on their qualifications, work experience, and language proficiency before being granted a visa.

8. Is there a quota system for different types of immigrants in Bahrain?

Bahrain does not have an official quota system for different types of immigrants. However, the country does have specific eligibility requirements and criteria for each type of immigration visa, such as work visas and family visas. These requirements may vary depending on the individual’s nationality, education, skills, and occupation. The government also reserves the right to limit the number of work permits issued in certain industries or occupations if deemed necessary for economic reasons.

9. Are foreign students allowed to work and stay after graduation in Bahrain under the immigration policies?

Foreign students in Bahrain are allowed to work part-time during their studies, but they must obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labour. After graduation, foreign students can stay and work in Bahrain if they are able to secure employment and obtain a valid work permit. The process for obtaining a work permit may vary depending on the applicant’s country of origin, qualifications, and job offer. It is recommended that foreign students consult with their university or employer for more information on the process.

10. What measures does Bahrain have in place to prevent illegal migration?

Bahrain has implemented several measures to prevent illegal migration, including:

1. Immigration laws and regulations: Bahrain has strict immigration laws and regulations that outline the requirements for legal entry and stay in the country. These laws are enforced by the Immigration and Passport Directorate, which is responsible for monitoring and controlling the entry and exit of individuals.

2. Border control: Bahrain has a sophisticated border control system in place, with advanced technology such as biometric scanners, facial recognition software, and border patrol units to monitor and secure its borders. The country also conducts regular patrols along its coastlines to prevent illegal entry.

3. Visa restrictions: Bahrain has imposed visa restrictions on certain countries as a preventive measure against illegal migration. Visitors from these countries are required to obtain a visa before entering Bahrain, making it difficult for undocumented migrants to enter the country.

4. Strict employment rules: Employers in Bahrain must adhere to strict labor laws when hiring foreign workers. This includes obtaining proper work permits for their employees and ensuring they do not overstay their visas.

5. Deportation policies: Bahrain has deportation policies in place for those caught residing or working illegally in the country. These individuals are arrested, detained, and then deported back to their home countries.

6. Cooperation with other countries: Bahrain works closely with other countries in the region to exchange information on potential security risks or illegal migration cases. The country is also part of regional agreements such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, which aims to promote cooperation among member states on various issues including security and migration.

7. Anti-human trafficking law: Bahrain has passed an anti-human trafficking law that criminalizes smuggling of migrants, forced labor, sexual exploitation, and other forms of human trafficking.

8. Awareness campaigns: The government of Bahrain regularly conducts awareness campaigns about the dangers of illegal migration and advises individuals on how to enter the country legally.

9. Border surveillance: In addition to traditional border control measures, Bahrain also uses advanced surveillance technology such as cameras and drones to monitor its borders and detect any illegal movements.

10. Deportee reintegration programs: The government of Bahrain has implemented programs to reintegrate deportees into their home countries, providing them with necessary support and resources to help them build a new life after deportation.

11. Does Bahrain’s immigration policy prioritize certain countries or regions over others?

Yes, Bahrain’s immigration policy prioritizes certain countries and regions over others. The Bahrain government has a list of 102 countries whose citizens can obtain a visa on arrival for a specified duration, including the GCC countries, European Union member states, United Kingdom, Japan, China, India, and many others. Citizens of these countries have easier and faster access to entering Bahrain compared to citizens of non-designated countries. Additionally, there are some restrictions in place for citizens of certain countries that may require them to obtain a visa in advance or be subjected to stricter entry requirements.

12. Are there any age restrictions for immigrants coming to Bahrain?

There are no specific age restrictions for immigrants coming to Bahrain. However, individuals must meet the visa requirements set by the Bahraini government, which may include age restrictions for certain types of visas such as work or student visas. Additionally, parents or legal guardians must accompany minors for their immigration process.

13. Is it possible to appeal a decision made by the immigration authorities in Bahrain?

Yes, it is possible to appeal a decision made by the immigration authorities in Bahrain. Appeals must be filed with the Ministry of Interior within 30 days from the date of notification of the decision. The appeal must include all relevant information and supporting documents. However, certain decisions, such as deportation orders or refusal of entry, are not subject to appeal.

14. How long does the process of obtaining citizenship take under Bahrain’s immigration policies?

The process of obtaining citizenship under Bahrain’s immigration policies can vary in length, but it typically takes around 5-7 years. This includes the initial application, background checks, and approval by the Ministry of Interior. The process may take longer if there are any issues or delays in the application.

15. Are there any language or cultural integration requirements for immigrants?

In most countries, there may be certain language or cultural integration requirements for immigrants. This can vary depending on the specific policies and laws of each country. For example, some countries may require immigrants to pass a language proficiency test or attend cultural orientation classes before being granted permanent residency or citizenship. Other countries may have more relaxed requirements, while some may have stricter integration policies. It is important for prospective immigrants to research and understand the specific integration requirements of the country they are planning to move to.

16. Can an immigrant bring their immediate family members with them when moving to Bahrain?

Yes, an immigrant can bring their immediate family members with them when moving to Bahrain. Immediate family members include a spouse and dependent children under the age of 18. The immigrant will need to sponsor their family members for a dependent visa and provide proof of financial ability to support them.

17. Are there any incentives or benefits offered to attract foreign investors under the immigration policies of Bahrain?

Yes, Bahrain offers various incentives and benefits to attract foreign investors under its immigration policies. These incentives and benefits include:

1. Business-friendly environment: Bahrain has a business-friendly environment with minimal red tape and low bureaucratic barriers, making it easier for foreign investors to do business.

2. Fast-track visa processing: The Kingdom of Bahrain offers a fast-track visa processing service for investors, allowing them to obtain a visa within 24 hours.

3. Long-term residency: Foreign investors who invest in certain sectors are eligible for a long-term residency permit, which allows them to stay in Bahrain for up to ten years.

4. Tax benefits: Bahrain offers a tax-free environment for businesses operating in many sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, and IT services.

5. Investment incentives: There are various investment incentives available to foreign investors in Bahrain, such as duty exemptions on equipment and raw materials, land lease agreements at subsidized rates, and financial assistance with training and employment of Bahraini nationals.

6. Easy access to the GCC market: As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain provides easy access to a market of more than 50 million consumers.

7. Streamlined procedures for setting up businesses: The process of setting up a business in Bahrain is relatively quick and straightforward, with streamlined procedures for obtaining necessary licenses and permits.

8. Pro-business policies: The government of Bahrain has implemented several pro-business policies aimed at promoting economic growth and attracting foreign investment.

9. Supportive regulatory framework: The regulatory framework in Bahrain is designed to support foreign investment by providing clear guidelines and protecting the rights of investors.

10. Bilateral investment treaties (BITs): Bahrain has signed BITs with several countries that provide protection against expropriation and offer dispute resolution mechanisms for foreign investors.

18. Does Bahrain offer any type of temporary work visas for foreigners? If yes, what are the requirements and validity period?

Yes, Bahrain does offer temporary work visas for foreigners. This type of visa is known as the “Visit Visa (Employment)”. The requirements and validity period for this visa are as follows:

1. Requirements:
– A completed application form
– A valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining
– A copy of the company’s Commercial Registration (CR) and a letter from the employer stating the purpose of the visit
– Proof of accommodation in Bahrain
– Medical clearance certificate showing that the applicant is free from infectious diseases, issued by a recognized medical center in Bahrain or country of origin.
– A valid return ticket or flight booking

2. Validity Period:
The Visit Visa (Employment) is valid for a maximum of 3 months.

It is important to note that this visa does not allow its holder to work in Bahrain. If an individual wants to work while they are on a Visit Visa (Employment), they must apply for a work permit and residency permit separately.

In order to obtain a work permit, the employer must submit a request to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development through their online portal. Once approved, the employee can then obtain their residency permit through the General Directorate for Nationality, Passports and Residence (NPRA). The validity period for both permits will depend on the length of employment contract, but typically ranges from 1-2 years.

Overall, if an individual wishes to stay long-term and work in Bahrain, it is recommended that they obtain a proper work/residence permit rather than relying on a Visit Visa (Employment).

19. How are international marriages and partnerships recognized and supported under the immigration policies of Bahrain?

In Bahrain, foreign nationals who wish to enter into marriage with a Bahraini citizen must obtain prior approval from the Bahraini Ministry of Interior. The Ministry will assess the eligibility of the foreign national for residency in Bahrain based on factors such as their financial stability and potential contribution to the country.

If the foreign national’s application is approved, they may be granted a residence visa and will have the right to live in Bahrain with their spouse. If they are employed in Bahrain, they may also be eligible for a work permit.

Similarly, partnerships between a Bahraini citizen and a foreign national are recognized under immigration policies. The same process applies for obtaining a residence visa for partnerships as it does for marriages.

Foreign spouses and partners of Bahraini citizens are also entitled to certain benefits, such as access to healthcare and education services. They may also be eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship after several years of continuous residence in Bahrain.

Overall, international marriages and partnerships are recognized and supported under immigration policies in Bahrain, but thorough assessment and approval by the government are required before obtaining legal status in the country.

20.Is dual citizenship allowed inBahrain according to its immigration laws?

As of 2021, dual citizenship is not allowed in Bahrain according to its immigration laws. Under Article 11 of the Bahraini Citizenship Law, a person must renounce any other nationality upon becoming a naturalized citizen of Bahrain. Furthermore, holding dual citizenship without prior permission from the Ministry of Interior is considered illegal and can result in the revocation of Bahraini citizenship.

Exceptions may be granted in cases where an individual becomes a naturalized citizen of Bahrain but their country of origin does not allow them to renounce their citizenship. In such cases, the individual may be allowed to maintain their dual citizenship status with permission from the Ministry of Interior.

It is important for individuals considering seeking dual citizenship to research and understand the laws and regulations of both countries involved before making any decisions or applying for citizenship. It is also advisable to consult with legal advisors or immigration officials for further clarification on specific cases.