Khobar/Jeddah: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has extended an amnesty for foreign workers to obtain legal status in the country until November 3, from the previous deadline of July 3, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
Director of the branch office of the Labour Ministry in Riyadh, Fahd Bin Ali Al Khilaiwi, said that a massive public campaign against violating expatriate workers would be launched by the Jawazat and the Labour Ministry after the existing grace period ends on July 3, giving details of the new extension, and the penalties applicable thereafter.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) stated that the Ministries of Interior and Labour in the Kingdom ask everyone to meet all the statutory requirements and correct their situation as soon as possible during the extended grace period referred to, saying that those who do not respond to it would be likely to have the maximum penalties allowable applied against them in accordance with the provisions of the law.
Earlier this year the kingdom began to crack down on 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.
More than 1.5 million illegal foreign workers came forward during the first two months of the amnesty, which started on April 3, the labour ministry said.
It did not say how many illegal foreign workers currently live in the kingdom, but the number is reported to be around two million.
Of these, some 180,000 have left in addition to more than 200,000 unregistered workers expelled at the start of the year under new regulations to stamp out illegal immigration.
Security forces will resume cracking down on illegal workers in the new Islamic year, SPA said, quoting a government statement.