By Parag Deulgaonkar
Embassy predicts rush as kingdom’s 90-day grace period for illegal residents begins March 29
The Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia is expecting a large number of applicants to take advantage of the travel amnesty 2017 programme for illegal expat workers, which starts on March 29.
Last week, Saudi Arabia announced a 90-day grace period for illegal residents to go back to their home countries without incurring any penalties.
An estimated 2.96 million Indians live and work in Saudi Arabia, making it the largest expat community in the country. The Indian Embassy in Riyadh told Arabian Business it has sought information from the Saudi government on number of illegals.
In a tweet, the Indian Embassy said it will open up additional counters to meet the increased demand.
AMNESTY-2017 – SAUDI CAMPAIGN – NATION FREE OF VIOLATORS - Embassy is ready to help you out @ajxtopcop @IndianEmbRiyadh pic.twitter.com/qAZycMzVLL— India in SaudiArabia (@IndianEmbRiyadh) March 25, 2017
The embassy, however, clarified that those with valid Iqama [work permit] or Iqama expired after March 19, 2017, or facing imprisonment will not be eligible to apply. Only those Indians who have violated the local residency rules by overstaying in Saudi Arabia before March 19 will be eligible to apply for emergency certificate (EC), out pass or white passport.
The embassy said that it will also accept EC applications in Dammam, Jubail, Hail, Buraida, Wadi Al Dawaser, Al Khafji, Jouf, Hafral Al Batin, Arar and Hafoof. The ECs will be delivered on the designated date/time/place but applicants will have to provide original receipt to take delivery.
Amnesty 2017: How to get Out Pass/Emergency Certificate from the Embassy/Consulate @SushmaSwaraj @ajxtopcop @IndianEmbRiyadh @CGIJeddah pic.twitter.com/0O7viuTIpH— India in SaudiArabia (@IndianEmbRiyadh) March 26, 2017
Those who qualify for an exit pass will have to fill an EC application form and submit their passport copy, one photograph and iqama copy/border number/visa page.
The EC will be issued within five to seven days without any charge. Post the EC issuance, the passport of the application will get cancelled, it said.
Last week, the General Directorate of Passports (GDP) Twitter account (@AlJawazatKSA) tweeted saying undocumented expat workers seeking to correct their status during the new 90-day amnesty will be able to return to the ingdom by adhering to legal procedures.