Millions of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia were faced with the possibility of being deported just days ago. Starting in April, Saudi Arabia started efforts to eliminate the number of illegal foreign workers, which primarily consists of individuals working for companies that are not their official sponsor listed on their residence permit. The crackdown on the number of individuals working illegally inside Saudi Arabia is an attempt to also decrease the number of unemployed Saudi citizens. According to the Economic Times, since the Saudi Labour Ministry started these efforts, more than 180,000 individuals with visa violations left the country, 600,000 Saudi citizens have become employed and more than 1.6 million visitors have corrected their status.
As thousands of individuals rushed to government offices to update their status in hopes of being able to stay inside Saudi Arabia and forgo a fine, the offices have quickly become backed up and left individuals in long lines for days. As of Tuesday, tension for those working inside Saudi Arabia illegally started to loosen when an announcement was made that the July 3rd amnesty deadline was extended to November. While foreign workers have received this extended amnesty deadline, it does not mean they will be shown any leniency in the process. Foreign individuals must have a Saudi sponsor by November in order to obtain a residence permit and legally work inside of Saudi Arabia.
Individuals who are deported will be blacklisted and unable to return to Saudi Arabia, according to the Saudi Gazette, additionally, to ensure that all foreign workers have updated their status and are legally working within the country, after the amnesty deadline is up a country-wide initiative will take place. Officials have stated they will sweep through each business in all regions to ensure employees have valid documentation.
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