At least three South Asian embassies are hoping that their expatriates overstaying in Qatar without valid residence permit would avail of the Ministry of Interior's (MoI) three-month amnesty offer once it starts on September 1.
The MoI had announced through a Facebook post on Wednesday that foreigners residing in the country in violation of the provisions of the Law No. 4 of 2009 Regulating the Entry, Exit, Residence and Sponsorship of Expatriates can exit the country without any legal consequences during the amnesty that runs until December 1, 2016.
The MoI amnesty offer has come after a gap of 12 years, the previous one being between March and July 2004.
When contacted, officials of Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh missions said they would make arrangements in the coming days for their overstaying nationals to leave Qatar, making use of the amnesty scheme.
Replying to a query on the issue, Sri Lankan ambassador W M Karunadasa said his embassy would provide its wholehearted support to the local authorities to ensure that the illegal residents among his compatriots would leave the country during the three-month grace period. It is learnt that Qatar has around 180,000 Sri Lankans.
However, the envoy does not think that there are too many Sri Lankans illegally staying in the country. "I hope the number of such people would be a bare minimum," said Karunadasa while elaborating on his embassy's plans to issue temporary passports for those without valid passports.
The ambassador also said the mission would convey all further announcements on amnesty to the expatriate community members through the Supreme Council of the Sri Lankan Community Organisations, which is working under the aegis of the Sri Lankan embassy.
Reacting to the amnesty offer, Nepal embassy's Second Secretary Nitesh Sapkota said the embassy would chalk out plans to facilitate the exit of its expatriates who are illegally staying in Qatar.
It is understood that the Nepal embassy is setting up a help desk to assist its overstaying expatriates.
Next to the Indian expatriate community, Nepal has most number of its nationals in Qatar, which is said to be more than 425,000.
Bangladesh embassy's labour attache Serajul Islam also echoed similar sentiments. He said the mission officials would be visiting a number of labour camps housing a number of Bangaldesh expatriates and would appeal to those without valid residence documents to make use of the Qatar government offer.
The embassy is also planning to circulate among the community members three or four helpline numbers to help their illegal residents leave the country.
"Arrangements will also be made in our embassy in the next few days for the community members to make inquiries on the issue," he said.
As the Indian embassy was closed on Thursday due to a holiday, no formal inquiries could be made there.