Greece is planning to offer seasonal work visas to Bangladeshi migrants said the country's Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis during an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster.
According to DW, it has been around six months since Bangladesh and Greece signed an agreement to grant temporary work visas for Greece to 4,000 Bangladeshi nationals each year. Under the same scheme, as many as 15,000 undocumented Bangladeshis already working in Greece will have their status legalized.
The minister said the scheme will allow migrants from Bangladesh to come to Greece to work and earn money to support their families. Bangladeshi migrants currently send home about €100 million in remittances from Greece.
In an exclusive interview with InfoMigrants in Athens, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said the scheme, which begins this fall, will provide legal pathways for people to come to Greece without relying on people smugglers.
"Greece does not accept illegal migration," Mitarakis told InfoMigrants. "We protect our borders. We do not allow smugglers to select who comes to Europe."
As many as 30,000 Bangladeshis currently live in Greece, according to the Bangladesh embassy in Athens. About half of them are believed to be without legal status.
The deal is aimed at preventing Bangladeshi migrants from making risky sea journeys to the Greek islands, or trying to cross the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region.