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Saudi extends grace period for illegal workers

Riyadh, July 2, 2013, PTI: 3:13 IST

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday extended an amnesty for illegal foreign workers in the country by four months, bringing relief for thousands of immigrant workers, including
Indians, who are yet to regularise their documents.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has extended the amnesty period meant to regularise foreign workers in the country to November 4, state media reported.

A statement from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior, carried by the Saudi Press Agency said that the original three-month grace period, which ends on July 4, will be extended to the end of the current Hijra year 1434, equivalent to November 4, 2013.
Relief for thousands

The decision is likely to bring relief for thousands of illegal workers, including Indians, who are yet to regularise their documents.

The statement said that the King has directed to extend the grace period for correcting the status of violating workers as a maximum grace period following which authorities will start a campaign to detain violators in all parts of the country and all legal procedures shall be applied against violators.

“The Ministries of Interior and Labour call on all concerned people to work to meet all the statutory requirements and correct their status as soon as possible within the referred period, otherwise those who do not respond positively, they shall be subject to maximum penalties in accordance with the provisions of the regulations,” said the statement.

A day before the end of amnesty programme, the Indian embassy in Riyadh had said that around 65,000 Indians have already collected their travel documents and are legally secure in the country.

A senior Indian official said, around 90,000 Indians had approached the embassy for regularisation of their documents as part of the ‘Nitaqat’ programme, which ends on July
3.

The new Saudi labour law called ‘Nitaqat’ makes it mandatory for local companies to hire
one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.
As a result, a number of people from foreign countries who were working without valid work permits and runaways have come under the scanner.

According to the labour ministry more than 1.5 million illegal foreign workers have come forward so far to avail the amnesty. Of these, some 180,000 have left the kingdom in addition to more than 200,000 unregistered workers expelled at the start of the year under new regulations to stamp out illegal immigration.

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