Saudi extends illegal overseas worker deadline
Thousands of Asians have four more months to register
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah yesterday extended an amnesty enabling illegal overseas workers to declare their work status or return home without being prosecuted.
The amnesty which was declared on April 3 and which was due to expire today has now been extended to Nov 4, Saudi media reports have said.
The king’s announcement will benefit up to 17,500 illegal Filipino workers as well as thousands more from other Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh.
The Philippine Consul-General in Saudi Arabia, Uriel Normal Garibay, called the amnesty extension a "relief for Filipino expatriates."
He expressed hope that the Saudi authorities can speed up processing of the workers' documents.
"We hope there will be some changes to quicken the procedures, and we will also see how we can be of better service,” he said.
"In the first grace period, a majority of them couldn’t complete formalities in passport offices," Garibay said.
He said some 11,500 overseas Filipino workers want to correct their status in Saudi Arabia while 6,000 others wanted to return to the Philippines.
Diplomats from other Asian countries with substantial numbers of their nationals in the country voiced similar sentiments
Security forces will conduct a nationwide crackdown on illegal foreign workers once the amnesty has expired, the Saudi Interior Ministry has warned. Those who fail to register their status or are found to be working illegally face being jailed, fined or blacklisted.
Saudi Arabia is currently implementing what it calls its "Nitaqat" policy, which prioritizes the employment of Saudis over migrant workers.
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