Cairo: Saudi Arabia has revoked a three-year ban on foreign workers who hold exit/re-entry visas, but failed to return before their expiry.
The kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports has notified different departments, entry points, airlines and transit terminals to allow the entry of such labourers, reversing the ban.
The new decision went into effect on Tuesday.
The restriction preventing the re-entry of an expatriate, who departed the kingdom with an exit/re-entry visa but did not return within its valid period before three years elapsed, has been lifted.
Experts said the decision is part of “successive improvements” introduced by the Saudi authorities into the labour and investment environment.
Requirements to obtain an exit/re-entry visa include payment of all fines linked to the worker’s traffic violations, having a passport valid for at least 90 days, and the presence in the kingdom of the person to whom the visa will be issued.
Under the Saudi labour system, the employer bears fees of the foreign worker’s recruitment, residency, the labour licence, its renewal as well as fees of the profession change, exit/re-entry and the cost of the employee’s return to the home country upon the end of the contractual relation.
However, the worker bears the cost of return to the homeland if deemed unfit for the job, or if he/she wishes to return to the home country for no legal reason.
Foreigners make up around 13.4 million or 41.5 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s overall population of 32.2 million, according to official figures.
Saudi authorities have recently introduced a set of facilities for expatriates.
The General Directorate of Passports in August said exit/re-entry visa holders can have their visas extended electronically while they are outside Saudi Arabia after paying related fees via the Absher platform or Muqeem portal.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia introduced major labour reforms, drastically improving its sponsorship system. The reforms, which went into effect in the ensuing year, allow job mobility and regulate the exit and re-entry visa issuance for expatriate workers without employers’ approval.