At least one million migrant workers are expected to leave Saudi Arabia under its amnesty campaign, currently underway, according to officials.
The three-month campaign allows those overstaying in Saudi without the right visas and documents to leave the country without facing fines or penalties for violating the rules. Those leaving under amnesty are also exempt from the ‘exit fingerprint’ requirement, and could be allowed to return to the kingdom at a later date legally.
In order to apply for the amnesty, workers must go on the Ministry of Interior’s website and book an appointment in the passport section using their residence ID and date of birth.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif urged violators to “take advantage of the opportunity during the allotted grace period, and for all to cooperate in achieving the campaign’s goals.” He also instructed “involved parties to facilitate the departure of violators during the period and exempt them of penalties.”
The campaign began on March 29 and will run until 3 November 2017. Preliminary results indicate that it has been “positive,” officials from the General Directorate of Passports and Ministry of Labour and Social Development confirmed to local media.
In the week after its launch, it was reported that up to 6,000 undocumented Pakistani nationals in Jeddah and Madinah sought assistance from their consulate, while more than 3,655 Indian workers applied for emergency certificates to leave the country.
In total, 19 government entities are participating in the campaign, with officials using social media in several languages to reach out to expats across the country.
Turki Al-Manea, general director of the branch of the ministry of labour and social development in Qassim, told Arab News that the campaign “would revive the economies of companies and establishments and protect small businesses and projects from illegal expats, while also reducing unemployment rates and creating a safe economic and social environment.”
This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has launched an amnesty campaign. The country, which has a huge population of migrant workers, first launched the initiative in 2013. More than 2.5 million visa violators left during that campaign, according to officials.
The 2013 amnesty came during a crackdown on the labour black market in the country and was extended from three months to seven months to allow more time for workers to leave the country.
This article was first published by Gulf Business