Source: In response to requests for higher pay, Qatar imposes temporary ban on Filipina visas

Qatar has instituted a temporary ban on business and working visas for Filipinas entering the country, a local manpower agency has told Doha News.

The information confirms rumors of new restrictions on Filipina visas that have been circulating on social media sites over the last few days.

A ban on visit visas for Filipinas was also put in place, but this is expected to be lifted later today, the agency said.

The representative added that the new restrictions began “last week.”

When reached for comment about the development,the Labor Attaché at the Phillippines Embassy here told Doha News that he “knew nothing about it.”

Heavy response

If the ban is indeed official, it is likely that Qatar’s immigration authorities have imposed it in response to the Philippine government’s recent attempts to increase the wages its workers earn around the world.

The Philippines government established a $400 (QR1460) minimum wage for its domestic workers in 2007, and recently toured GCC countries as part of a “goodwill mission” to try to make sure the rules are being adhered to, the National reported earlier this month.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to have agreed to stick to the minimum wage requirement, but Qatar’s government has not, reports the Peninsula.

Increasing wages would be an unpopular move here, where many of Qatar’s 40,000+ Filipina domestic workers receive an average of QR900, or $247, monthly.

Calls for boycott

The Peninsula quotes some Qatari nationals’ reactions to the idea:

“Give me a substitute and I will repatriate all Filipina maids,” says one. “The Indians are ready to work for $250 a month.”

“My Filipina maid demanded QR1,500, more than double the sum (QR730) I am paying her” says another. “When I volunteered to raise it to QR800, she decided to quit…I am now hiring a Sri Lankan domestic.”

The uncertainty over the visa situation appears to having a negative impact on many families and their Filipina employees.

Alison, a British expat, told Doha News of her predicament:

“My maid is meant to be flying out tomorrow to Bahrain (her visa expires and she is coming back on a visit visa to then transfer to my husbands sponsorship.) I’ve just had a call from the agency to say immigration have stopped ALL visas for Filipinos until further notice and if any are out on visa runs today they wont be allowed back in and have to go to Manilla.”

Incensed about possible wage increases, some Qataris have also been using social media to call for a boycott of all Filipina maids. Hearing of this suggestion, the Philippines Ambassador to Qatar told Peninsula:

Qatar is a free market, so people should find domestic workers from other countries. Nobody is forcing anyone to keep Filipina maids. Employers have a choice.”

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Artiii

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