Saudi Arabia’s Directorate of Passports announced on Thursday that the deadline for illegal expatriates to voluntarily leave the Kingdom had been extended by one month.
It said royal approval was given for a one-month extension, starting from Shawwal 1 (June 25), for violators of all nationalities to voluntarily leave the country.
The decision was taken to enforce the nationwide campaign known as “Nation Without Illegal Expats” by giving the violators a further opportunity to leave the Kingdom on their own and at their expense, reported the Kingdom’s state news agency.
The initial three-month grace period ended on Ramadan 29 (June 24). Those who left in the 90-day grace period will also be allowed to apply for another working visa in the kingdom. Expatriates account for a large portion of the country’s workforce. The number of expats in the Kingdom was 10.4 million as of 2016 — almost one-third of the total population, according to Arab News.
Maj. General Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of passports, called on all expatriates who are in the Kingdom illegally and were unable to take advantage of the 90-day amnesty from March 29, to complete their departure procedures yet to quickly report to the nearest reception center to benefit from the penalty exemption before the new deadline expires, reported SPA.
As of mid-June, more than 400,000 foreigners had completed final exit procedures by taking advantage of the three-month amnesty. “A total of 404,253 labor and residency law violators have been benefited during the grace period and of these more than 100,000 have already left the Kingdom,” said Gen. Al-Yahya quoted local daily Saudi Gazette.
In a related note, of the 400,000 Ethiopians living illegally in Saudi Arabia, only 85,000 people applied to take advantage of the amnesty provided by Saudi Arabia to return to Ethiopia. Less than half of those have actually returned, reported TRT World.
According to reports, more than 5,000 stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been repatriated in the 90-day amnesty program. Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Dominado Say said 5,299 Filipino workers have been sent home while 2,241 other OFWs are due to come back to the Philippines soon.
The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said some 12,000 Filipinos – having trouble with residency and labor regulations in Saudi Arabia – managed to register for deportation before the deadline for the amnesty expired on Sunday.
Last month, while speaking to TOI by telephone from Riyadh, Anil Nautiyal, counselor (community welfare) at the Indian embassy, said some 20,321 Indian nationals had applied till May 1st to return home under the amnesty scheme.