Women married to foreigners can now sponsor kids, spouse

The Directorate General of Passports has started implementing a Council of Ministers decision allowing Saudi women married to foreigners to sponsor their children.

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — The Directorate General of Passports has started implementing a Council of Ministers decision allowing Saudi women married to foreigners to sponsor their children.

Those eligible under the ruling will be granted residency permits (iqamas) with their mothers named as the sponsors.

Under the decision, the mother can also bring her children who are living abroad back to the Kingdom if they have no criminal records.

The decision made it clear that the government would pay the iqama issuance fees.

Directorate spokesman Col. Badr Bin Mohammed Al-Malik said the decision has empowered Saudi women married to foreign husbands to transfer the iqamas of their children to their own civil records.

He said the children would have the right to work in the private sector while still on the sponsorship of their Saudi mothers.

The spokesman said the decision also gave foreign men married to Saudi women the right to work in the private sector while on the sponsorship of their wives on condition that the title on their iqamas should be written as "husband of a Saudi wife" and that they should have valid passports enabling them to return to their homes at any time.

Al-Malik said another condition is that the marriage should have been approved by the government, the marriage contract authenticated and the children have the necessary documents proving their identities.

A number of Saudi women married to foreigners have expressed happiness over the decision, saying it has solved a lot of problems and made their lives much easier.

They said they are so grateful that the decision has given them the right to sponsor their own children and ensured them with free medical treatment in government hospitals and free education in government schools.

Susan Al-Hassani, who has been married to a Yemeni man for nine years, said: “This decision will enable me to ensure the future of my children.

“I am now relieved that my children will not have to look for a sponsor when they reach the age of puberty.”

She said she will not only be able to sponsor her children but will not have to worry about paying the iqama issuance fees since the government will do that on her behalf.

"I can picture the happiness on the faces of my children. They can now be employed by the private sector while under my sponsorship."

Fatihiya Al-Shirbeeni, who has been married to an Egyptian for 27 years and has eight children with him, said: “My husband transferred his iqama to three establishments before but the last one refused him permission to sponsor our children.

“The decision has given me the right to sponsor my children, who can now join the private sector like other Saudi citizens.”

Maha Al-Halwani said she has five children with her foreign husband.

The eldest, who is 21, is now studying in Egypt under the sponsorship of his father.

"When my son completes his university education, he can come back to the Kingdom under my sponsorship and can find a job in the private sector."

Nahla, another Saudi woman with a foreign husband, hoped that foreign husbands would also be treated like Saudi citizens in jobs, especially in the private sector, so they are able to sustain their families.

Dr. Hussain Al-Sharif, supervisor of the Makkah branch of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), hailed the decision and said it has resolved many issues faced by Saudi women married to foreign husbands.

He said under the ruling, the foreign husband of a Saudi woman would be counted as a Saudi citizen for companies looking to meet Saudization targets.

Lawyer and legal consultant Khaled Al-Siraihi said the decision has ensured the children of a Saudi wife and a foreign husband of their rights to residency, free medical treatment and education as well as employment in the private sector.

"Under the decision, these children will be counted as Saudis in the Nitaqat program." He explained that under this decision a Saudi wife could recruit her foreign husband if he is living abroad and transfer his iqama onto her name if he is living in the Kingdom.