Saudi passports head says no extension to amnesty

Major general Solaiman Al-Yahya warned that those who failed to utilise the four-month window would be punished



Saudi Arabia has no plans to extend a four-month amnesty for illegal foreign workers and visa violators, according to reports.

The director general of the kingdom’s Passports Department, major general Solaiman Al-Yahya, was quoted as saying the period was sufficient for those staying in the kingdom illegally to leave.

“Four months given to violators of residency and labour laws to leave the Kingdom voluntarily were enough,” he told Arabic publication Al-Madina on Wednesday.

The amnesty, which began on March 29, was originally only meant to last 90 days but was extended to end on July 25.

Huge crowds were seen at processing offices earlier this week as thousands sought to make it out of the country before the deadline.

Read: Thousands rush to leave Saudi as amnesty deadline looms

The amnesty allowed any illegal resident to leave the kingdom without penalty provided there were no criminal cases against them. Furthermore, those that left did not have their fingerprints taken and could return to the country for legal work.

Al-Yahya indicated some 600,000 violators took advantage of the period to leave the kingdom voluntarily, significantly less than the more than one million some had expected.

Read: At least 1 million expats expected to leave Saudi under amnesty campaign

Reports earlier this week suggested some illegal foreign workers were hoping for a further extension to the amnesty period to take advantage of the beginning of the Haj pilgrimage and earn some extra money.

However, Al-Yahya warned that those who did not utilise the four-month exit window would be arrested and punished.

“These are reckless people who have no respect for the law. Therefore they will be penalised,” he was quoted as saying.

Those that completed their departure procedures but missed the deadline to leave the kingdom will also be fined and deported, the official warned.

A crackdown campaign involving 19 government departments will soon begin to apprehend illegal foreign workers.

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