The number of Filipinos working in Qatar is declining, in part because it is becoming more difficult to acquire work visas for expats of all skill sets, a senior official has said.
Over the past 10 months, the Philippines embassy has noticed a reduction in the number of employment requests for its nationals, Ambassador to Qatar Crescente Relacion told Doha News.
The decrease appears to coincide with an unofficial ban on visas for new Filipino domestic workers, which began late last year. That ban was put into place after the Philippines government requested that Qatar honor a $400 minimum wage for its maids.
The lack of available work visas now seems to extend beyond domestic workers to Filipinos with professional qualifications, Relacion said.
“We have also received complaints from companies here in Qatar and from recruitment agencies that they want to get Filipino workers in, but that there are no available visas.
There is no official pronouncement from the Qatari government that they have reduced the number of Filipino visas, but that’s what we have noticed.”
According to the ambassador, there are currently around 200,000 Filipinos working in Qatar. This is a significantly lower number than the Commission on Filipino Overseas’ estimate of 320,000, which Relacion said is inaccurate.
That’s because while some Filipinos come to Qatar on visitor visas to search for a job, the cost of the flight and visa makes this option prohibitively expensive for most, he said.
The embassy estimates that about 30,000 women, or some 15 percent of Philippines nationals, are working in Qatar are housemaids.
This is a steep reduction from last year’s estimates, which put the total number of Filipina maids at 40,000.
Relacion explained that as maids leave for good, they are not being replaced with other Filipinas due to the visa restrictions.
The Philippines government established a $400 (QR1460) minimum wage for its domestic workers in 2007, and has toured GCC countries as part of a “goodwill mission” to try to make sure the rules are being adhered to.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to have agreed to stick to the minimum wage requirement, but Qatar’s government has not.
Credit: Photo by JMParrone