Gulf | Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia not to extend three-month grace period for illegal expatriates in the country

Foreigners urged to rectify status before end of grace period

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 18:16 May 6, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has urged foreigners staying illegally in the country to take advantage of the three-month grace period to regularise their situation.

There will be no extension of the grace period and there will be a zero-tolerance policy for those who fail to regularise their status, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official news agency.

“Expatriates who are staying illegally should promptly contact the relevant authorities to rectify their status in accordance with the rules and regulations,” the ministry said.

Last month, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz called for giving foreigners staying illegally in the country a three-month grace period to regularise their situation.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has directed the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour that labourers violating regulations in the Kingdom be given a grace period of three months to regularise their status,” an official statement said. “The law will be enforced against those who remain in violation following the end of the grace period,” the statement said.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have launched a massive campaign to deport thousands of foreigners who overstayed their residence permits or worked illegally or did not have the legal documents to work or stay in the country.

The nation-wide campaign is attributed to ambitious labour market reforms, the employment of Saudi nationals and boosting security levels, particularly in the south where thousands of infiltrators have been attempting to enter the kingdom, lured by lucrative opportunities.

Online reactions to the announcement of the grace period were not supportive amid claims that most of the foreigners staying illegally in the kingdom would not attempt to rectify their status.

Around eight million expatriates work and live in the vast Saudi kingdom, mainly unskilled labourers and domestic helpers from Asian countries.

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