RIYADH: RASHID HASSAN
Published — Tuesday 10 September 2013
Last update 10 September 2013 4:22 am
The Indian Embassy has asserted that it is directly accessible to citizens living in the Kingdom and that middlemen, agencies and authorized representatives are not needed.
Sibi George, minister and deputy chief of mission, told reporters on Sunday night that, “We do not have any middlemen in passport services, visa application systems or other essential services rendered by the mission. The embassy is the only source for issuing passports or visas.”
George said that there are 12 centers located throughout the Kingdom to assist people seeking such services.
He said that 136,576 new passports were issued during 2012 and that 90,984 new passports have been issued this year up until August. He said that 51,879 emergency certificates have been issued this year so far versus 4,538 last year.
The deputy chief of mission said that the embassy is providing free passport renewal services and that they have renewed 5,178 passports so far this year.
George said that three days are needed to issue passports, visas two days and attestation services for passports are a same-day service.
He said that the Indian mission would launch the online visa application system very soon and that Jeddah was included in the proposal.
He maintained that the Indian mission is helping the community in fully utilizing the grace period and stressed that there would be no illegal Indians in the Kingdom after the Nov. 3 deadline.
George said that 80 percent of citizens who have applied for emergency certificates have been cleared.
“Anybody who needs to legalize their status should fully utilize the grace period,” he said.
Answering a query that Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao has approached the Saudi Labor Ministry,
George said that the ambassador has expressed his gratitude towards Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his decision to extend the amnesty deadline until Nov. 3.
George urged Indian citizens living in the Kingdom not to get misled by illegal agents and middlemen, as Saudi authorities have made it clear that there is no fee for obtaining exit visas and that services at the deportation center are free during the grace period.
The minister said that applicants who have obtained travel documents from the embassy are urged to approach deportation centers directly for final exits.
He said illegal agents are issuing applicants with numbers claiming that these numbers are legitimate exit numbers, yet many people who have obtained such exit numbers through illegal agents have since been rejected at airports. Fake agents will likely be faced with penal action.