Saudi Arabia ends a three-year ban for expatriates with expired entry visas

The General Directorate of Passports, known as Jawazat, has issued instructions to all departments and ports, including land, sea, and air entry points, to permit the entry of expatriates who failed to return before the expiry of their exit and reentry visas.

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Revocation of the Ban for Expatriates

This directive, reported by Okaz newspaper, effectively lifts the existing three-year ban on foreign workers who left the Kingdom under exit and reentry visas and did not return within the stipulated timeframe. The new directive, in force since January 16, marks a significant reversal of the earlier ban imposed by Jawazat.

Background and Ban Reversal

The initial ban was implemented in response to demands from businessmen who sought to prevent the reentry of foreign workers who failed to return within the valid period of their exit and reentry visas. This demand was aligned with a previous decision by the Council of Ministers, emphasizing the consequences for workers who did not adhere to the stipulated timelines. Businessmen highlighted financial losses incurred due to fees for renewing residency permits (iqama), work permits, and return tickets for workers not returning on time. Additionally, the failure of workers to return punctually led to contract terminations, impacting business interests and destabilizing the employment market.

Reemphasizing Visa Issuance Conditions

Jawazat has reemphasized specific conditions for the issuance of exit and reentry visas. These include the clearance of outstanding traffic violation fines by the worker, no violations resulting in the non-cancellation of previously issued and unused visas, the absence of a valid visa, and the physical presence of the visa recipient within the Kingdom's territory. Other conditions involve the worker's passport having 90 days or more of validity and the presence of the individual's fingerprint for whom the visa is intended.

Impact on Expatriates and the Employment Market

The lifting of the ban is anticipated to alleviate challenges faced by expatriates who inadvertently exceeded the visa expiration period. By allowing their reentry, it provides an opportunity for these workers to rectify their status and resume employment. Moreover, the decision aligns with efforts to maintain a stable and efficient employment market, addressing concerns raised by businessmen while balancing the interests of expatriate workers in the Kingdom.

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