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Saturday, May 11, 2013


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Date: Sat, May 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Subject: [Hyderabad-Rocks] "3 JULY 2013 DEADLINE FOR ILLEGALS -SAUDI ARABIA"
Illegal expats win major concessions
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    Adel Fakeih
    Hundreds of thousands of Haj and Umrah overstayers who arrived in Saudi Arabia before July 3, 2008, can work as domestic workers or for private companies as part of wide-ranging concessions announced yesterday by the ministries of Labor and Interior.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Last Update 11 May 2013 9:01 am

The concessions are perhaps the most far-reaching changes in the Kingdom's labor law history that will now include allowing illegal workers to leave the country during the grace period without paying penalties. In addition, Huroob (runaway workers) will be allowed to return to their current sponsors or transfer to another.

In a joint statement, the ministries said any expatriate who wishes to leave the country during the three-month grace period, who had violated residence and labor regulations, will be exempted from all stipulated penalties.

The statement added that violators who leave the country voluntarily on a final exit visa during the grace period would be fingerprinted. However, this would not hinder them from returning to the Kingdom in future on a different work visa. This was a major worry for illegal workers and had stopped them from going home. Diplomats have welcomed the move.

Another major concession is that runaway workers charged with the Huroob violation, or those who stay in the country after the expiry of their residency and labor permits, are permitted to rectify their status either by returning to their current sponsor or transferring to another sponsor without the permission of the current sponsor. "Any dispute on rights and claims between such a worker and his previous sponsor will be settled by special legal departments," the statement said.

Workers who entered the country illegally will not benefit from these concessions.

But the most significant concession will permit Haj and Umrah overstayers to obtain permission from the Passport Department and Labor Office to work as household workers or for private companies. Recruitment of such workers should not result in a company losing its green category status, and in the case of an employing family, it should not have more than four workers.

The ministries also called on all private establishments and expatriate workers to speed up their efforts to rectify their residential and labor status before July 3 when the grace period ends.

"Inspection campaigns will resume soon after the deadline to enforce labor and immigration laws on both employers and employees," the joint statement said.

The statement also warned that anyone transporting or sheltering an expatriate violator would be punished with a two-year jail term and fined up to SR 100,000 for each violator. The illegal expatriate who does not leave the country will be jailed and fined.

Another condition of such transfers is that no more than four expatriate workers are allowed to transfer to a very small green firm with nine workers or less. The labor office will process their transfers.

Both domestic and non-domestic expatriate workers are entitled to change their professions without paying any fees during the grace period.

Runaway domestic workers or those who stay in the country after the expiry of their residence and labor permits are also permitted to rectify their status. They can go back to their existing sponsors if both parties agree. Or else he or she can get a transfer to any other sponsor's domestic service with the help of the Passport Department; or any private firm may employ them without the permission of the current sponsor. The formalities would be processed at the labor office.

The conditions for the transfer of domestic workers specify that the new family where he or she wants to be transferred should not have more than four workers after the transfer.

It is also stipulated that a house worker's transfer to a private firm should not result in it falling out of its green category. This condition has to be fulfilled by a firm employing more than nine workers or a very small firm with less than 10 workers. The very small firms can accept only a maximum of four such transfers.

An establishment is also permitted to change the job category of an expatriate worker without looking at the Nitaqat category of the profession, but must adhere to the regulations on job reservation for Saudis which include senior human resources administrator, director of personnel, personnel relations manager, hotel receptionist, patient receptionist, cashier, private security guard, liaison officer, customs clearance agent and women's accessory workers.

The ministries also made it clear that a sponsor, who accepts a worker without the permission of the previous sponsor, should agree that he would not issue an exit or re-entry visa to that worker during the first three months from the date of the transfer, so that any claims against the worker could be settled. If the new sponsor allows the worker to leave during that period, he will be responsible for the liabilities of the worker.

The new regulations also permit regular domestic workers to transfer to a private firm if the existing sponsor has no objection to it.

It is the responsibility of a sponsor to keep the work permit and iqama of a worker in valid condition as long as the worker is present in the country. If the sponsor fails to do this, the worker has the right to annul the contract with that sponsor and transfer his service to another sponsor without the permission of the original sponsor. This regulation will be applicable after the grace period. The worker will also not be prevented from transferring his service even if the sponsor refuses to submit the worker's documents.

Another condition is that those who want to rectify their status are not allowed to transfer to a firm established after the beginning of the grace period on April 6.

Rectification of an expatriate worker's status such as the service transfer and profession transfer can be processed electronically if the company has activated the second phase of the Labor Ministry's e-services. This can be activated by contacting the nearest labor office.

Workers in an establishment run by a foreign investor can transfer their service to another firm or make a final departure without the consent of the foreign investor if the investor is not present in the Kingdom or his legal representative is not available, or no one is authorized to undertake administrative matters at the firm.

More details are available on the Labor Ministry's website or the Interior Ministry's site or the customer service center at 920001173.   .

Thanks & Best Regards,
Saudi Arabia