Muscat: More than 19,000 illegal foreign workers applied for an amnesty to leave the country; 16,000 among them have been deported.

A further 10,000 foreign workers rectified their labour status at the Ministry of Manpower.

The number of the illegal foreign workers doubled compared to 2010, a ministry official told Gulf News.

The amnesty is aimed at regulating the Omani labour market, the official said.

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

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

The amnesty only applies to absconding workers and those who have overstayed their visas. Infiltrators are not included in the amnesty.

There are 1.82 million expatriates in Oman, , accounting for 44 per cent of the country’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, urging the undocumented workers to take advantage of the offer to avoid legal problems.

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

Ten thousand people applied for amnesty in 2010, according to the ministry. According to Omani media reports, there are around 40,000 Bangladeshi, 4,000 Pakistanis and 3,000 Indian undocumented workers in Oman.

Oman has intensified its campaign against infiltrators and illegal foreign workers by carrying out weekly inspections and raids.

In May, more than 1,000 illegal expatriates were arrested for working in the new terminal building under construction at Muscat International Airport.

Those illegal workers had visas issued for jobs in restaurants, barber shops, tailor shops, and as housemaids and camel keepers.