Saudi arrests 24,000 in opening days of visa crackdown

The kingdom ended an amnesty for violators of residency and labour laws last week



Saudi authorities have arrested 24,000 people after beginning a crackdown on visa violators, Saudi Press Agency said on Saturday.

The crackdown began last Wednesday after the kingdom ended an extended amnesty period for violators of residency, labour and border security laws to correct their status and leave the country without penalty.

Read: Saudi to begin crackdown on visa violators

Among those arrested, 15,702 were violators of residency laws, 3,883 of border security laws and 4,353 of labour laws.

The majority (42 per cent) were picked up in Makkah, with 20 per cent in Riyadh, 11 per cent in Asir, 6 per cent in Jazan and 5 per cent in the Eastern provinces.

The ministry said 8,433 violators were now begin detained at the expatriate administration office and facing penalties.

Around 25 Saudis have also been detained for transporting or sheltering foreign violators.

Read: Saudi to begin crackdown on visa violators

In a separate statement, the kingdom’s General Directorate of Passports said residents could remain in the kingdom for up to 60 days after receiving their final exit visa even if their residency permit had expired.

Earlier this month the Council of Saudi Chambers put forth a proposal recommending expats that leave the country on exit visas are banned from returning for work for two years.

The proposal comes as many expatriates see job opportunities in the kingdom diminish due to economic pressures and a drive to limit some roles to Saudi citizens.

Read: Only Saudi women can now work in female clothes, accessory stores in kingdom