Saudi Arabia Is Offering a $13,300 Reward for Reporting Illegal Expats

Published May 18th, 2017 - 12:24 GMT
According to officials, the presence of illegal workers in the country is a security, economic, social and health risk for Saudi Arabia. (AFP/ File)
According to officials, the presence of illegal workers in the country is a security, economic, social and health risk for Saudi Arabia. (AFP/ File)

Security authorities in Saudi Arabia said they would reward anyone who reports residency or labour violations involving expatriates.

The reward could reach up to SR50,000 (~$13,330), Jamaan Bin Ahmad Al Ghamidi, consultant to public security, said at a town hall meeting with officials, tribe leaders, and education and media figures in Al Baha in the south west of the kingdom. 

Al Ghamidi warned there would be zero tolerance towards anyone who employs or harbors any foreigner staying illegally in the country.

He said that conniving with the violators in any way would be strictly addressed, explaining that their presence in the country was a high security, economic, social and health risk.

"The campaign has been successful in Al Baha where so far, 1,350 foreigners have regularized their situation in a short time," he said, quoted by Saudi daily Al Madina on Tuesday. "Several aspects have been tackled and the campaign has designated 30 companies to employ foreigners in a legal way and for cheaper operation costs. Visas were also issued to help those who could hold positions that are not included in the Saudization programme, such as domestic helpers, farmers, construction workers and shepherds."

The consultant added that all foreigners with legal issues in the country should formalize their situation.

In March, the Saudi authorities gave foreigners staying illegally three months to leave the kingdom without paying fines or facing legal measures.

The grace period was announced on March 19 by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef as part of the “Nation Free of Violators” campaign to help undocumented expatriates regularise their status.

All concerned agencies and departments were instructed by Prince Mohammad, who is also Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, to ease the departure of all foreigners who wished to leave within the campaign that started on March 29.

Under the amnesty, any foreigner who was breaking the residency and work laws and regulations could leave the kingdom without paying any fines or be subject to legal action.

The violator would also be able to return later to work legally in Saudi Arabia since he would not go through the fingerprinting process usually applied to deportees who would not be allowed back into the kingdom, Mansoor Al Turki, the spokesperson for the interior ministry, said.

“The Nation Free of Violators campaign targets foreigners who have no residency or work permits or have not renewed them as well as those who entered Saudi Arabia with Haj, Umrah, visit or transit visas and failed to leave before their expiry,” Al Turki said.

“Those who have broken the residency and work laws should first settle their personal rights and dues and then start the process of leaving through the websites of the labour ministry or the passport department. Those who have overstayed their Haj, Umrah, visit or transit visas do not have to contact any government agency or authority and may head to any exit point and leave the country.”

Foreigners who have absconded and have been reported as missing by their employers should contact the nearest expatriates’ department to complete the departure process, he added.

Those who fail to take advantage of the campaign will be forced to pay fines ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 riyals, the authorities warned.

In 2013, then King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz gave a 90-day grace period to allow foreigners staying illegally in Saudi Arabia to legalise their status or leave the Kingdom without any penalty or fine.

According to the General Authority for Statistics, more than 12 million of the 32 million people who live in Saudi Arabia are foreigners.

By Habib Toumi

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