Muscat: More than 16,000 illegal foreign workers have so far applied for an amnesty to leave the country.

More illegal workers are expected to apply for the amnesty at the Ministry of Manpower offices nationwide as well as embassies, a Ministry of Manpower official told Gulf News.

The ministry has witnessed a huge turnout of illegal workers applying for the amnesty this year, compared to the previous amnesty periods, affirmed the official.

The amnesty aims to regulate the Omani labour market, explained the official.

Oman extended its amnesty for illegal foreign workers to leave the country without being fined to the end of October.

Some 10,000 of them have already been deported, while the rest will be deported after legal procedures are completed, added the official.

The official pointed out that more than 60,000 foreigners, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, have taken advantage of the six-month period that started on May 3.

Some 658 of those illegal workers will be deported this week. 204 of them were deported last week.

The amnesty only applies to absconding workers and those who have overstayed their visa periods. Infiltrators will not be included in the amnesty, the official told Gulf News.

Expatriates constitute 1.82 million, or 44 per cent, of Oman’s total population of 4.16 million.

“Illegal workers will be allowed to leave the country as long as they don’t have any pending cases,” said the official.

The official urged the undocumented workers to take advantage of the offer to avoid legal jurisdiction.

The previous amnesties were given in 2005, 2007 and 2010.

10,000 applied for the amnesty in 2010, according to the Ministry of Manpower figures.

According to Omani media reports, there are around 40,000 undocumented Bangladeshi workers, 4,000 Pakistanis and 3,000 Indian workers in Oman.