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Saudi Arabia announces three-month grace period for illegal foreigners

Thousands of expats urged to seize opportunity to regularise status

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s king has called for giving foreigners staying illegally in the country a three-month grace period to regularize 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,” according to a statement carried by the official news agency on Saturday. “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 regularize their situations.