What is the change? The Malagasy Government has lifted its ban on issuing exit visas to citizens seeking to work in certain Gulf countries.

What does the change mean? Malagasy citizens wanting to work in the Gulf region may now apply to the Department of Employment for an exit visa in this regard.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Malagasy citizens.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: Gulf region companies wanting to employ Malagasy citizens are no longer prohibited by the government from doing so as long as certain eligibility criteria are met.
  • Next steps: Malagasy citizens wanting to work in the Gulf region should review the new Department of Employment exit visa eligibility criteria to ensure that they qualify.

Background: Following local media reports of labor trafficking and abuse of migrant workers in Kuwait and Lebanon and the deaths of 30 Malagasy expatriate workers in particular, the Malagasy Department of Employment implemented an absolute ban on issuing exit visas to citizens seeking to work in the Gulf region in 2015.

Although the absolute ban has now been lifted, the Department of Employment has confirmed that exit visas will only be issued to citizens who are able to demonstrate fluency in two foreign languages and who have secured an overseas position via a staffing agency that has been licensed by the government. In announcing these eligibility criteria, the Department of Employment stated that such measures were required to help citizens prepare for the cultural differences of host countries and to ensure that working overseas was seen to be an opportunity and not a misfortune.

BAL Analysis: Although the Malagasy Government’s decision to lift the exit visa ban will allow for greater overseas mobility and work opportunities, the new strict exit visa eligibility criteria will significantly limit the number of Malagasy citizens who will qualify.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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