Illegal workers amnesty ends in Saudi Arabia

03 November 2013

Search for illegal workers to take place in all sectors

Following the end of the six-month grace period for undocumented migrant workers on 3 November, Saudi Arabian authorities will begin inspections of commercial premises as planned, according to a statement by the Labour Ministry.

Denying local rumours that private homes would be raided in the probe for illegal workers, the ministry said searches would be confined to workplaces across all sectors to ensure that expatriates have valid visas and that companies are complying with labour and Saudisation rules.

Under the amnesty, which was launched in April, workers were allowed to change their sponsorship without obtaining their sponsors’ permission and could exit the kingdom without penalty. In July, the Labour Ministry reported that 4 million foreign workers had corrected their visa status.

Due to concerns that not all of the labourers who had been trying to correct their status would be able to do so in time, the government extended the original three-month deadline to 3 November.

More than one million illegal workers have already have left the country under the amnesty, according to the Passport Department.

The crackdown on illegal workers and the push to increase the number of Saudi nationals in the workforce is having a major impact on business practices and projects in the kingdom’s construction sector.

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