3 million illegals netted, 750,000 deported since November 2017

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH —
Saudi authorities have arrested about 2.98 million foreigners who were living in the country in violation of the labor and residency regulations and deported more than 750,000 of them to their respective countries since November 2017, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday quoting the Interior Ministry officials.

The Saudi Interior Ministry launched a nationwide crackdown against illegal residents on Nov. 15, 2017, with the participation of

19 government departments including the Directorate General of Passports and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

The campaign officials said as many as 2.98 million expatriates were arrested for violating the system of residency, labor regulations and border security.

They said 750,504 of detained residents were deported to their respective home countries.

As many as 2,328,031 expatriates were arrested for violating residency regulations, 458,591 for violating the labor law and 200,695 for breaching border security.

The officials said a total of 50,388 people were apprehended while attempting to sneak into the Kingdom through its southern borders. About 49 percent of the infiltrators were Yemenis, 48 percent Ethiopians and the rest constituted people of various nationalities.

The officials also said 3,697 people were caught while attempting to leave the Kingdom illegally.

According to the campaign officials, as many as 3,697 people, including 1,227 Saudi nationals, were arrested fro providing transportation and accommodation to illegal residents.

They said 1,177 Saudis detained for sheltering illegals were questioned, punished and released while 50 others were still being investigated.

A total of 405,806 expatriates were referred to their concerned embassies and consulates to issue them with travel documents while 507,042 were waiting for flight bookings to leave the country.

The officials said 11,813 illegal expatriates were held in various detention centers in the country. They consist of 9,818 men and 1,995 women.

The security clampdown to flush out all illegal expatriates from Saudi Arabia seems to have achieved its objectives with the coordinated efforts of various security agencies.

The Ministry of Interior launched the Nation Without Illegal Expats campaign on March 29, 2017, with an initial 90-day grace period for all visa overstayers and violators of residency and labor laws to leave the country without incurring any penalties. Due to the huge rush of undocumented workers wishing to leave the Kingdom taking advantage of the general amnesty, which allowed them to return to the Kingdom later on legal work visas, the grace period was extended a number of times until it finally ended on Nov. 15, 2017.

The Passport Department and several foreign diplomatic missions opened facilitation centers in various parts of the country to help expatriates wishing to leave the Kingdom on their own to complete the procedures.

Saudi authorities estimated that more than 750,000 people belonging to 140 nationalities had benefited from the amnesty when the grace period finally ended. But hundreds of thousands of others remained in the Kingdom, either determined to stay back unheedful of the consequences or unable to avail themselves of the amnesty offer.


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