Amnesty ends, Saudi starts drive against foreigners
Riyadh: With the deadline for the seven-month grace period to correct labour and residency status of illegal foreigners ending in Saudi Arabia, authorities launched an all-out inspection campaign targeting them, even as over a million Indians have availed of the amnesty.
The campaign would continue throughout the year and there is no time limit set for it, said Major Gen Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior.
The grace period announced on April 3 and then extended for four months ended on Monday.
The new labour policy Nitaqat was part of Saudi Arabia's steps to expand job avenues for its nationals. Under the policy, 10 per cent of jobs even in small and medium business establishments should be reserved for Saudi nationals.
The raids will cover all cities, towns, regions and villages as well as highways across the Kingdom, Al-Turki said at a press conference. He said violators will be arrested, penalised and deported.
"All expatriates who work for their personal gain or overstayed their Haj, Umrah, and visit visas and infiltrators will be caught and will be detained until completing legal procedures for penal measures and deportation.
"The campaign also aims at catching Saudis who employ illegal residents or those who leave their workers to find job on their own," Al-Turki was quoted as saying by Saudi Gazette.
He reiterated that the inspection raids will be strict and continuous with optimum utilisation of the human resources.
Millions of workers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, among others, have taken advantage of the amnesty and left the Kingdom.
The 2.8 million plus strong Indians in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the country.
Indian embassy in Riyadh on Monday said a meeting of the core group of volunteers registered with the diplomatic mission and officials deployed at labour offices will be held tomorrow to discuss post amnesty developments.
Till October 21, the embassy estimated that over 95 per cent of Indians who got their exit papers have already left the country.
"The figures that we have till date is that more than one million Indians have used the concessions announced by His Majesty and corrected their status.
"Since the beginning of grace period so far 359,997 Indians have transferred their services, 355,035 Indians have changed their job title and 466,689 Indians have renewed their licenses," the embassy said in a statement last month.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter and has the Arab world's largest economy.