Bangladesh’s government is cracking down on visa violations by foreigners. At a recent meeting, officials decided to impose fines and progressive taxes on those who overstay their visas or work illegally in the country.
This move follows allegations of many foreigners working without permits, often using tourist or multiple-entry visas to evade taxes.
According to data from the Special Branch of Bangladesh Police, as of December 31, 2023, there were over 100,000 foreigners legally present in Bangladesh. However, a significant number, about three-fourths, arrived on tourist visas, with only a fraction holding employment or business visas.
Indians make up the largest group of foreign nationals in Bangladesh, followed by Chinese nationals. Mohammad Tofazzel Hossain Miah, principal secretary to the prime minister, revealed that the government plans to tighten visa regulations. Previously, foreigners had three months to prepare documents and apply for work permits upon arrival. Now, this window will be reduced to just one month.
Additionally, the government aims to enforce existing visa policies more rigorously. Currently, individuals can overstay their visas indefinitely by paying a fine of Tk 30,000 each year. However, new rules will impose fines and progressive taxes on visa violators, discouraging illegal stays.
Foreigners seeking work visas will have to apply through Bangladesh’s missions abroad. These applications will then be forwarded to the Special Branch of Bangladesh Police for verification within seven days. Miah emphasized that the government loses tax revenue when foreigners work without permits, highlighting the importance of enforcing visa regulations.
The decision to tighten visa rules underscores the government’s commitment to curbing illegal immigration and ensuring compliance with labor laws.