Sponsor system presents problems for expat youth aged over 20 years

Sponsor system presents problems for expat youth aged over 20 years
Updated 23 August 2012

Sponsor system presents problems for expat youth aged over 20 years

Sponsor system presents problems for expat youth aged over 20 years

JEDDAH: Expat men, over 20 years of age and living in the Kingdom under their fathers’ sponsorship are facing a major problem, as they now have to find their own sponsor.
This regulation is considered extreme as many of these men are still studying. In fact, they may not be able to find sponsors, as expats must work for a company or an individual to receive sponsorship.
Those who cannot find a sponsor will be forced to return to their home country or stay illegally in the Kingdom.
Abdullah Youssef, a 20-year-old Syrian, born in the Kingdom and under his father’s sponsorship has been told to find a new sponsor while he is studying.
“I have my Iqama but I left the Kingdom to study in Egypt. Every six months I return to renew my Iqama. Last semester when I tried to renew it, the Passport Department refused until I find a new sponsor. As I am still a student, I cannot find a company to sponsor me,” he said.
Abdullah added, “My father asked his Saudi friends to sponsor me as a driver, barber, or baker. Many of them apologized saying they couldn’t as they already have many workers under their sponsorship.”
He says returning to his native Syria is impossible as he is still studying in Egypt.
“If I return to my country I may have difficulty getting back into Egypt. On the other hand, I might not be able to return to the Kingdom especially with the political climate in Syria,” he said.
Abdullah’s father told Arab News there should be a separate process for expat students especially those born in the Kingdom.
“Sons of older expats like me should be treated differently especially when our generation was the first to participate in the Kingdom’s development. How come I live in the Kingdom and my son lives in another country?” he asked.
Recent reports confirm eight million expats live here and expat children born in the Kingdom total three million.
Fadi Barazek, a Palestinian expat living in Jeddah for 20 years is trying to transfer his sponsorship so he can renew his Iqama. The Passport Department recently refused his application. “In the past, a son was permitted to stay under the sponsorship of his father until the age of 25, but not now. I have visited the Passport Department to find a solution but to no avail. The university is waiting for my renewed Iqama to allow me to continue studying, “ he said.
Some expats wanting to stay in the Kingdom are transferring their sponsorship to any individual for a fee.
That’s what Wadie’a, a Jordanian expat living in Jeddah for 30 years did, when he transferred his son’s sponsorship. “During my time in the Kingdom, relations with Saudis were severed and that’s why it was difficult for me to find individuals to sponsor my sons,” he said. He found three sponsors and paid SR 2,000 to each of them.
He added, “After being here so long, I don’t think about returning to Jordan especially with the political changes in Syria. These changes influence Jordanians as prices rise and lead to an economic crisis. Staying in the Kingdom is much safer for my family and I.”