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Sunday, April 28, 2013

A harrowing experience for Indians with free visas

AS RECEIVED.................

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Subhan <subhan_ma@yahoo.com>
Date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 9:45 AM
Subject: [tanzeemhumhindustani] A harrowing experience for Indians with 'free visas'
To:
 
 

A harrowing experience for Indians with 'free visas'

  • 1366639223479151800.jpg
    Indian workers crowding their consulate in Jeddah. (AN photo)
JEDDAH: Irfan Mohammed
 
Tuesday 23 April 2013
 
Last Update 23 April 2013 2:58 am
 
Approximately 42,000 Indian expatriates have so far registered their names to seek help to regularize their stay in the Kingdom and facilitate their return home.

The vast majority of Indians who are approaching Indian diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah are desperately seeking the assistance of Indian missions for their departure from the Kingdom and a few of them are interested in staying on in the country. Most Indian expatriate laborers who are seeking assistance have been living in the Kingdom illegally for between three and five years.

Few companies in the green category status in the Nitaqat (naturalization) system are seriously attempting to recruit any worker in the red category companies who are approaching Indian missions for help. Indeed there has been hardly any response to the long queues of workers.

Thousands of Indians entered the Kingdom on employment visas for menial jobs only to be deserted by their employers. Also, several have fled from their employers and their visas have expired. They are classified as "huroob."

There are hundreds of Indians who arrived on free visas, which were arranged by Saudis and their foreign middlemen. These workers only know the agent who has sold visas but do not know the original sponsor. All such expatriates are now in search of their original sponsor to take passport and sponsorship transfer forms but many have found that their names are being listed under "huroob." Worse, the middlemen cannot be contacted as they have switched off their mobile phones. These workers are seeking the help of diplomatic missions to locate their sponsors and assist them with the transfer of sponsorship.

The iqamas of the majority of applicants seeking assistance were issued in Riyadh and Dammam. Most of them are not aware that their names have been submitted as absconders and listed under huroob. This is the primary challenge the Indian community is facing.

Sibi George, official at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, told Arab News that so far, the embassy has registered 38,000 names who are seeking embassy assistance to regularize their stay or return home. He said that the registration process is still continuing and that arrangements have been made in various Indian schools.

S.R.H. Fahmi, consul community welfare at the Indian Consulate in Jeddah, said the consulate has registered 4,000 names so far of those seeking assistance, a majority of whom want to return to India. There are also plans to have a registration facility in Taif and Tabuk.

Indian diplomatic missions have repeatedly publicized that forms are available free of charge and can be downloaded from websites. Yet laborers who are illiterate are dependent on middlemen for filling out their forms. The problem is acute in Riyadh and Dammam where the laborers are forced cough up up to SR 100 in some cases for filling out a form.
 

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Thanks & Best Regards,
 
 
AIJAZ AHMED
Dammam
Saudi Arabia