Illegal workers face jail after July 3 in Saudi
Dubai: Saudi Arabia on Friday warned illegal foreign workers that they will face prison sentences and fines once the three-month grace period runs out on July 3.
In a joint statement, the Ministries of Interior and Labour confirmed that an inspection campaign will resume soon after the deadline to enforce the new labour and immigration laws, known as the Nitaqat law.
Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.
A delegation led by Ravi visited the Kingdom two weeks ago to raise concerns about the country's Nitaqat programme.
During the talks, both sides had agreed to set up a joint working group to address "all immediate problems" facing the Indian community including issues related to overstaying workers.
A senior Indian diplomat in Saudi Arabia has said that over 60,000 Indian workers are seeking emergency travel documents.
The Saudi government is implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country. Under the new law, even the employers or those who shelter illegal workers can be sent to up to two years in prison. Fines will range from Saudi Riyal 1,000 (USD 267) to 50,000 (USD 13,333), depending on the nature of the violation.
The statement urged those whose work and residency permits have expired, to take advantage of the amnesty without penalty, including "special measures" that would allow a change of employer under certain conditions.
According to these "special measures", all violators who would like to correct their situations and stay for work in the Gulf state will be exempted from all punishments and fines, except for government fees, related to their violations which took place before April 6. The amnesty does not cover those who entered the country illegally.
The Nitaqat law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.
More than 200,000 foreigners have been deported from the country over the past few months as part of labour market reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into private sector jobs, where they now make up only a tenth of the workforce.