RIYADH: The decision to extend Saudi Arabia’s amnesty for violators of residence and employment regulations has been widely welcomed, as it gives people one more chance to leave the Kingdom without penalty.
The General Directorate of Passports (GDP) on Thursday announced that a 90-day amnesty period, launched on March 29 under the “A Nation Without Violations” campaign, is being extended for another 30 days, effective from June 25.
It applies to people of all nationalities, and allows those staying illegally in the Kingdom to leave voluntarily without facing legal action.
The decision was taken to enforce a national campaign to track and control violators of residence, employment and border-security systems. It gives violators the opportunity to leave the Kingdom at their own expense, while allowing them to return later by legal process.
Mohammed Azizuddin, an Indian businessman and volunteer who helped several illegal workers during the 90-day amnesty, welcomed the decision to extend its duration.
“It is indeed good news for the overstaying Indian friends,” he said.
Ali Thamby, a Sri Lankan national working in Riyadh as an accountant who has done social work in his community, appreciated the move by the Saudi government.
“It came as a sigh of relief to many illegally staying workers, especially those who started the procedure to return home by taking the benefit of the 90-day grace period announced earlier, but could not complete the paperwork in time for some technical reason,” Thamby said. “Now they can do it in extended time to leave the Kingdom to avoid the legal action.”
Mohammed Mohsin, a Bangladeshi worker in Riyadh, described the decision as a golden opportunity for illegal workers who could not complete their paperwork to leave the Kingdom earlier.
The 30-day extension of the amnesty period is in line with directives of Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, according to Director General of Passports Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya.
Al-Yahya, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), urged all illegal expats who were not able to benefit from the previous grace period, as well as those who completed the procedures but were not able to depart, to immediately visit one of the reception centers to complete the necessary process.