Foreign workers who had taken advantage of the Government’s amnesty programme early this year and have since re-entered Malaysia on social passes will be allowed to register for work documents.

Even those whose social passes have since expired will be allowed to do so for the time being, provided that their applications are made through their local employers.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid, however, said this offer would only be valid for a specific period of time.

“We will decide when to stop this. After that, the workers will have to apply through the normal channels,” he told reporters at his office Wednesday.

Azmi said the new system that had been approved by the Cabinet was only meant for foreign workers who were fingerprinted by the Immigration Department when they left the country under the amnesty period.

All Immigration Department offices nationwide, he said, would be equipped with devices that could access the biometric system where the fingerprints were stored so that they could process applications for work permits from these workers.

Of the 385,000-odd illegal foreign workers who left the country under the amnesty, the bulk of whom were Indonesians, less than 10% had since returned through the one-roof-centres set up by the Immigration Department in various places in Indonesia.

Azmi said his ministry had received feedback that many had returned to seek employment on social visit passes to evade payment of hefty charges imposed by an Indonesian consortium set up to handle their re-entry through the one-roof-centres.

Since various sectors were still facing an acute shortage of workers, particularly the plantation industry, he said the Government would extend this offer to affected workers who had yet to come back.

Commenting on a Human Rights Watch report recently that said many foreign maids in Malaysia suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse due to flawed government policies, Azmi said the statement did not reflect the actual situation.