Greece offers visas to Bangladeshi workers to plow fields


ATHENS – Bangladeshi workers in Greece will be offered seasonal work in the fall, although many have been reported as unreceptive as it does not offer them long-term security.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis told InfoMigrants of the plan which comes after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in February to legally bring in 4,000 workers from Bangladesh each year.

The agreement was signed in Dhaka by Bangladeshi Minister of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmad and his Greek counterpart Panagiotis A. Mitarakis, reported.

“Bangladeshi workers will receive a 5-year temporary work permit. Under the agreement, seasonal workers will be hired in the agricultural sector,” the Bangladesh Expatriate Ministry said.

Despite still relatively high unemployment, Greece is struggling to fill lower-paying, more menial jobs that often see migrants – many of whom are in the country illegally – working in strawberry fields and in agriculture.

Nearly 30,000 Bangladeshi citizens live in Greece, the Bangladesh Embassy in Athens said, and almost half of them are believed to be in the country illegally, some for years.

Greek officials have said that the visa program for seasonal workers, which is limited to the agricultural sector, can be considered strict but is fair, although Greece has been frantically trying to prevent migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to enter.

“Greece does not accept illegal migration. We protect our borders. We don’t allow smugglers to choose who comes to Europe,” Mitarachis told InfoMigrants, after also denying pushbacks of refugees and migrants cited in reports.

Under the agreement, Bangladeshi workers can legally stay in Greece for five years if they work in the fields for at least nine months a year, although there have been reports that they are sometimes mistreated and unpaid.


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