Saudi Arabia says no new amnesty for foreign workers

Authorities say November deadline will not be extended; illegal workers will be 'firmly' punished

Asian labourers work at a flyover construction site in eastern Riyadh. Saudi Arabia extended the deadline for illegal foreign workers to legalise their status. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Asian labourers work at a flyover construction site in eastern Riyadh. Saudi Arabia extended the deadline for illegal foreign workers to legalise their status. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Saudi Arabian officials said on Sunday that the amnesty for foreign workers to obtain legal status will not be extended again when in expires on November 3.

The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour both called on all expatriates violating the regulations of residence and work to take advantage of the extension which was announced in July.

The two ministries confirmed that after the expiry of the November deadline, "the legally prescribed penalties will be firmly applied against any violating expatriates and their employers with no complacency regarding this matter", Saudi Press Agency reported.

Violations of visa laws outlined by the Ministry of Interior include forging documents and employers sheltering those who overstay visas. Companies could be hit with fines of up to SR30,000 ($8,000) per illegal worker and be named in the press.

Out of Saudi Arabia’s population of close to 30m, close to 10m are expats, primarily from other Arab countries and South Asia.

The policy is the latest move in an apparent drive to bolster employment among Saudi citizens, where the jobless rate currently stands at more than 12 percent.

In July, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah extended the amnesty for foreign workers from July 3 to November 3.

Earlier this year the kingdom began to crack down on the many foreign workers who have violated their visa terms with surprise inspections on streets and in company offices.

Tens of thousands of people were deported or decided to leave the country under this pressure, raising concern about possible damage to the economy if deportations continued.

The government then announced an amnesty during which workers would be forgiven any fees or fines for visa violations such as overstaying or switching jobs, but bureaucratic delays mean many have still not regularised their status.

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Posted by: michale

what about americans brought to ksa as teachers given a visit visa also known to some as a business visa. these so called legal visas are nothing short of some scamto get teachers on a promise to work then to pay them but cant get a bank account, nor own any real property, also these visa gray areas are putting these unaware individuals in harms way by exposing them to potential criminal prosecution for living and earning without a proper visa.

Posted by: believer38

The main problem is that despite the amnesty given by King Abdullah the expatritate community is still suffering by the officials. Nothing is done with out bribe. The so called middle men have a mafia network with the passport officials. Here are some examples

Changing of profession costs 5000 S.R?. Who is to benefit from this. If an expatriate needs exit visa only if he doesn't pay some where between 1000-1500 nothing will happen. People stay infront of deportation center in Riyadh city day and night no one bothers to ask their problem. If they pay through middlemen you will get every thing will be done. Pay you will get the service if you don't pay nothing will be done. What ever proclamation amnesty and directives announced from the concerned authorities still the expatriates continues to suffer as long as the concerned authorities are not able to do some thing to detter this mafia group.

Posted by: syed ali

My Iqama gone for changes for last 2 1/2 months only kafeel changed but mehna need to changed from zooj to company given title, still it is in pending., don't know what to do if the announced amnesty will finish. Let increase the workforce in govt department to complete there task before time line.

Posted by: abdelwasie ibrahim

Since the saudi economy is the main beneficiary from the cheap labor represented by foreigners, the kingdom should deal with them softly and be more selective in accepting farther more numbers in future.

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