It was only a matter of time before this new rule was implemented in the kingdom. Indian nationals who are planning to come to work in Saudi Arabia would now need to go through another process. They would need to have a police clearance from the local passport office.
I remember that this rule was already in place about a decade ago, when I first entered the kingdom. However, it was never implemented strictly and over a period of time, the Saudi embassy in India also stopped insisting on it. But now, it has become official.
What does this mean for the potential Indian expatriate planning to work in Saudi Arabia? Indian passports are valid for ten years from the date of issue, before they need renewing. Potential Indian expats planning to come to the kingdom for employment first need to ensure that the address mentioned in their passports are updated. So, if you have moved your residence after issue of your passport, you better get the new address updated in the passport. I would advise you to also make a personal visit to your local police station to make sure that the cops visit you when you are present at home. Visiting your local police station strengthens your case for a quicker home visit by the policemen.
An update to the Arab News report is that the new rule is being implemented from 15th February, 2010 and not from 25th January, as mentioned.
What is particularly comforting is the fact that Saudi sponsors too need to have their visa requests certified by the local Chamber of Commerce and countersigned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In case any sponsor has defaulted or has pending cases in the labor court, he would be unable to get this certificate from the Chamber of Commerce. It is hoped that both criminal employees as well as criminal sponsors can be effectively screened this way. I just wish that this rule is implemented in letter and spirit and not watered down as time passes.
On another note, there is still no update on the proposed family visa process based on income. Remember the famous NOC-not-required-rule which came into force in 2006, but till date is partially implemented and that too only for a few countries? Patience is a virtue for expatriates working in Saudi Arabia and I just hope that the family visa proposal also does not get delayed further.