570,000 expats leave Saudi Arabia during amnesty period

More than 570,000 expats have left Saudi Arabia, since the end of March, as part of the kingdom’s amnesty campaign.

As reported, the Saudi Interior Ministry launched a 90-day amnesty campaign that it called “Nation Free of Violators” in March, that allowed illegal expatriate workers to leave the kingdom without penalties. The initial amnesty that was to end on June 25 but was later extend by a month till the end of July.

The Saudi passports department (Jawazat) said that already there has been an exodus of 572,488 that has taken place during the period.

And out of the half a million plus workers to leave the country, only 12,000 expatriates, who left voluntarily, have come back legally to the kingdom with new work visas, according to local news outlet Saudi Gazette.

Tougher post-amnesty rules

Under the rules of the Saudi campaign, any expat violating the rules of residence and work, would not be fingerprinted at the time of departure and would potentially be allowed to come back to the kingdom legally anytime.

As reported, it was estimated that up to 1 million expats would leave during the period till the end of June. and while the figure is just over half that, new threats to those that stay illegally is expected to see that figure rise before the final deadline at the end of this month.

The Jawazat, which it says, has established about 50 reception points for the expatriates to complete their departure procedures, has asked all the remaining violators to “avail themselves of the remaining grace period to leave the country voluntarily”, so as to have a chance to come back again legally.

It also warned the violators who have completed their departure procedures but are still staying in the kingdom that they would be jailed and penalised, Saudi Gazette said.

Exemptions for undocumented residents and workers leaving voluntarily include imprisonment, fees, and fines, which are normally applied to violators of residence, employment and border security regulations.

Saudi officials have warned that security authorities will “track down” potential violators after the amnesty period expires and impose strict penalties including imprisonment, fines, deportation and a ban from entering Saudi Arabia in the future, the report concluded.

Tough times for expats

Life in Saudi Arabia has become much tougher for expats recently, with, as reported, new monthly levy charges for expats and their families recently introduced by the Saudi government.

The moves are part of a concerted effort to give more available work to Saudi nationals and remove as many low salaried expatriate workers as possible, as the country shifts its focus away from oil dependency into other areas of commerce.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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