By Irfan Mohammed
Jeddah — Thousands of expatriate workers with expired resident IDs (iqamas) or those who have not been issued iqamas because their employers have been placed in the red category of the Saudization system or those whose sponsors have died are running from pillar to post to take advantage of the amnesty announced by the authorities.
The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) says that such workers can leave the Kingdom under the amnesty, but first they must visit a Ministry of Labor and Social Development branch to update relevant information to enable the processing of exit visas.
However, when these workers approached the Labor Ministry’s office in Jeddah, they were referred to the Jawazat. But the Jawazat sent them back to the labor office.
The Labor Ministry spokesperson Khalid Aba Al-Khail did not respond to requests for comment.
According to sources, officials are planning to hold sponsors accountable for such lapses and are working to collect data about them to impose penalties.
The hardest hit are construction workers whose iqamas have expired and their employers are in the red category of the Nitaqat Saudization system.
The Indian consulate in Jeddah is working with local Saudi authorities to address such issues, according to Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian Consul General.
“Several of our nationals in such categories have approached us. The Indian consulate has taken up the issue with Jawazat and Labor Ministry officials,” he said, adding that ministry officials gave assurance that there would be proper mechanism in place from next week to receive applicants from such categories.
Sheikh also said that expatriates who performed Haj without permit are also not able to seek online appointment to visit Jawazat offices to process their exit visa papers.