Saudis and expatriates have applauded the three-month grace period given by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for illegal expats to correct their status.
The king instructed the Ministries of Interior and Labor to give iqama and labor rule violators an opportunity to correct their status within three months.
“Action will be taken in accordance with the law against those expatriates who fail to correct their status within this grace period,” the king said in a statement.
The news has been widely welcomed by Saudi businessmen and expatriates as the raids being carried out by a joint team of interior and labor officials had affected business.
According to the Interior Ministry, employers and expatriate workers would face steep fines and jail time if they violate iqama and visa laws. The ministry outlined 34 violations ranging from expats failing to provide proof of residency to forgery to employers hiring workers on a visitor’s visa. Fines range from SR 1,000 to SR 50,000 depending on nature of the violation.
Ibrahim Muhammad, who is retired from the Ministry of Interior, said that the Ministry of Labor should emphasize the guidelines every time an expatriate renews or replaces his iqama. “More light should be given to the issue by the media and business people to make sure there is no misunderstanding about what can happen to violators of the law,” he said. A resident failing to prove that he holds an iqama faces a SR 1,000 fine for the first violation, SR 2,000 for the second offense and SR 3,000 for the third violation. Saudi citizens who help an expat obtain a forged iqama face fines of up to SR 15,000 and three months in jail.
Expats who forge iqamas or visas face up to three months in jail or a SR 10,000 fine.
Individuals sheltering overstayers can expect to pay as much as SR 30,000 in fines and have their name published in the press. Fines are multiplied for each overstayer involved.
In a related development, psychologists have warned against the negative impact of raids on Saudis as well as expatriates and described it as Jawazat (passport) phobia. They said such phobia would encourage people to become introverts and behave angrily toward those surrounding them.