Foreign laborers now need an extra permit for each island: Gov't

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusaan has announced that foreign labourers in the Maldives will now be required to obtain an additional permit for each island they work in. The policy change is part of the government's strategy to address the issue of illegal foreign workers.

The government has set a three-year timeline to tackle the issue of illegal foreigners. As such, Minister Ihusaan initiated Operation Kurangi in May, a special initiative aimed at collecting information on all foreigners residing in the Maldives.

Speaking to PSM News, Minister Ihusaan said that Operation Kurangi was piloted in Himmafushi, Kaafu Atoll. He noted that while approximately 700 foreigners were expected to live on the island, the actual number exceeded 800. He also said that the goal of the initiative is to identify undocumented foreigners within the community.

Additionally, Minister Ihusaan highlighted that, according to the law, local councils are responsible for tracking foreigners living on their islands. He, however, said that there is currently no system in place to facilitate it. As such, he said that the government is collecting biometric data from foreigners and providing councils with access to a comprehensive system to maintain accurate records. He also said that even if a foreign worker has a permit to work in the Maldives, they must now obtain a separate permit to work on each specific island.

Furthermore, Minister Ihusaan said that the government is working to streamline the deportation process for illegal immigrants. He said that the maximum ticket price for deportation is set at USD519, after deducting the foreigner's deposit. He said that foreigners with proper documentation can now be deported within 48 hours of their arrest, although deporting those without documents remains time-consuming. He also said that the government is collaborating with embassies to resolve these challenges.