Okaz/Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH – The three-month grace period granted by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to expatriate workers to correct their status may be extended, according to informed sources.
The sources said the ministerial committee assigned to follow-up on the correction procedures is expected to ask for a new extension of three more months.
They said the committee reached the decision after noticing that the grace period, which would end on July 3, was not enough to enable the huge number of foreigners rectify their status within the time frame.
The committee noted that the procedures of status correction were slow and that the expatriates overcrowded the offices of the Jawazat and the Labor Ministry queuing for long hours under scorching sun.
Meanwhile, Director of the branch office of the Labor Ministry in Riyadh Fahd Bin Ali Al-Khilaiwi said that a massive campaign against violating expats would be launched by the Jawazat and the Labor Ministry after the grace period ends.
He said so far between 450,000 and 500,000 foreigners have corrected their status in Riyadh.
Speaking at a meeting at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerced and Industry on Sunday, Al-Khilaiwi said the infiltrators who illegally sneaked into the Kingdom would not be allowed to correct their status. He said all the foreigners who came for Haj, Umrah or visit before 3/7/2008 could rectify their status at the passport department.
Meanwhile, informed sources told Okaz that the Ministry of Labor would stop recruiting shepherds and drivers from Eritrea and Yemen.
Indonesian officials said Monday that they had requested Saudi Arabia to extend the deadline to register undocumented foreign workers.
“We have asked for an extension and I have met with Saudi government officials to discuss the matter,” said Tatang Razak, director of protection of Indonesian citizens and legal entities at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta, who is on temporary assignment in Jeddah. “We are trying to solve this problem through a ‘win-win.’ Saudi Arabia needs Indonesian workers, and we need to help our workers have jobs.”
Some 180,000 illegal foreign workers have left Saudi Arabia since April 1 under an amnesty that allows them to try to sort out their papers or leave without paying a penalty.
This wave brings to 380,000 the number of foreign workers who have left Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year.
Workers without proper papers are becoming increasingly concerned as violators of the immigration rules in the Kingdom will face penalties when the amnesty period ends on July 3, with punishment including imprisonment up to two years, and fines up to SR100,000.