Passport issue resolved with Saudi: Indian Mission



Riyadh: India and Saudi Arabia have resolved the issue of refusal of new Indian passports by immigration authorities in Jeddah which had caused concern among the Indian expatriates in the Kingdom.

Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao met Saudi Deputy Minister of Interior Dr Ahmed Al-Saleh yesterday in the wake of reports that immigration officials in Jeddah had refused to accept new Indian passports.

Rao explained that the travel document's format has been changed and that it should be accepted.

The Ambassador raised the issue while discussing the ongoing concessions announced by the Saudi government for correcting the status of overstaying Indian workers and their return to India without any penal action.

Deputy Chief of Mission of Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia Sibi George said a few cases were reported in Jeddah where perhaps immigration authorities were not aware of the new format of the passport but it was resolved and there was no issue at Riyadh or in any other city in the country.

"The Ambassador discussed the issue with the Minister. The issue has been clarified and the matter has been sorted out. There is just no panic amongst Indian community," George said.

According to reports, the problem arose when Saudi authorities declined to transfer data from old passports to the new ones submitted by Indian expatriates for updating, saying they have not received any official information on the modification.

In the old passport, the passport holder's photo was placed on the second page, whereas the newly issued passports have photos placed on the third page.

George said the Embassy was always ready to take up any issues concerning the Indian community with local authorities.

The directives by the Saudi government are part of the Kingdom's new 'Nitaqat' law which makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.

Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government was implementing the Nitaqat law to cut unemployment in the country.

PTI