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Saudi Arabia

Pay fine, legalize status

The Labor Ministry announced on Saturday that it would continue to accept applications from undocumented expats to legalize their status despite the end of the amnesty on Nov. 3.
However, it insisted that such workers have to pay fines or face other penal measures for the delay in legalizing their status.
Faisal Al-Otaibi, director-general of inspections at the ministry, also pointed out that it would not accept any request for exemptions from raids being carried out by the ministry and security officials to rid the country of labor law violators.
“The correction process is continuing and those who want to legalize their status can do so through our electronic services and labor offices,” he said.
The ministry’s statement has been widely welcomed by expats and private companies whose activities have been hampered by raids that are being conducted throughout the Kingdom to crack down on undocumented workers.
Hundreds of illegals have been reportedly arrested in different parts of the country and many companies have suspended operations to avoid raids.
“Companies with a ‘closed’ sign on their window will not be exempt from questioning and search and our teams will visit such firms several times,” Al-Otaibi said, adding that the raids were aimed at creating a secure and organized labor market in the country.
Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged expats to make use of the ministry’s offer that aims at legalizing workers in the country and protecting their rights.
“Saudi Arabia has changed. It will not accept anymore illegal workers and illegal coverup businesses,” he told Arab News. He refuted suggestions that the raids would affect the Kingdom’s economic development.
The ministry has deployed 55 teams in Riyadh, 45 in Jeddah and 64 in the Eastern Province to inspect firms. Every team includes at least two inspectors and a security officer. “We have deployed these teams in major cities and townships considering the number of firms there,” he said.
The ministry has prepared a list of companies for inspections and it covers firms in different sectors and varying sizes. Teams appointed by the ministry conduct about 80 percent of raids.
“The raids will be carried out at any time, not necessarily during the government working hours of inspectors. It will be conducted during the working hours of private firms,” Al-Otaibi said.
The ongoing labor raids have affected the work of many companies, as a considerable number of their foreign workers could not legalize their status during the seven-month amnesty.
The ministry has promised it would issue visas to companies that have complied with Saudization regulations and have ongoing projects in order to meet their manpower shortages.
“The ministry’s offer will help stabilize the labor market and bring down the prices of goods and services,” said Ibrahim Al-Hodaithy, deputy chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
He said the raids would affect the market because of a shortage of workers doing jobs that cannot be done by Saudis. “Failure by the ministry to issue visas to compensate workers who have already left the country will lead to a hike in prices of goods and services,” Al-Hodaithy said, adding that Saudis would be the first victims of such effects.

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