KSA extends amnesty to foreign workers

Saudi Arabia has extended by four months the amnesty period for ‘undocumented foreign workers’ effective until Nov 4 this year, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.The Ministry of Interior said in a statement issued on Tuesday that King Abdullah issued his directive in pursuant to the royal directive to give amnesty to workers violating the system of work and residence.
During this period, the foreign workers who have illegally arrived in the kingdom can “correct their status … with full cooperation and rapid response from citizens, residents, and the business sector.”
All embassies and consulates have been asked to meet the required documentation for workers from their countries who have not been legalised.
Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a media statement said, since declaration of the amnesty on May 10, Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh and Consulate General in Jeddah had so far extended emergency consular services to 234,293 expatriate.
Of them 112,994 obtained new passports, 46,896 renewed, 70,735 received one way travel permit and 3,668 other services, it said.
The SPA said this decision was taken as a “result of the heavy pressure from workers to provide more time to correct their status, and in facilitation for citizens and residents who have dealt with this matter very seriously.”
It said the Ministries of Interior and Labour have called on all 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 shall be subject to maximum penalties in accordance with the provisions of the regulations.”
This is surely an opportunity for scores of Bangladesh workers to regularise their status.
It was, however, not yet clear how many ‘undocumented’ Bangladesh workers might be there in Saudi Arabia as of now.
Recently, Saudi Arabia also allowed Bangladeshi workers to transfer their residence or work permits.
With nearly one-fourth of its expatriate workforce working in the oil-rich kingdom, Saudi Arabia is the largest manpower export destination for Bangladesh.
But since 2009, officials say manpower export to Saudi Arabia almost stopped as it restricted issue of Iqama transfer – residence permit or work permit transfer – for Bangladeshi nationals.
Bangladesh now sends around 15000 workers to Saudi Arabia a year — much less than was the case three years ago.
Saudi employers are said to be uncomfortable with the Bangladesh labour force who tend to protest and have even, in one case, broken local laws to demonstrate.
But the “Economist”, published from London, said in a recent article that Bangladesh’s starting the war crimes trials and reverting back to a secular Constitution have something to do with the fall in the number of workers going to the Kingdom.
Now, it says, more Pakistani workers go to Saudi Arabia than those from Bangladesh.                    – bdnews24.com

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