Monday, May 13, 2013

Some relief finally?

The last three days have seen such a frenzied activity that each time I tried to write about one topic, there was a new development popping up immediately, so I decided to wait and consolidate all of them.

You might recollect my earlier article (click here) about the changes to the original Nitaqat scheme. So much has been the impact of these changes that the Saudi Government was forced to call the diplomats of all major labor exporting countries for a briefing last week. A series of "concessions" were announced. The most important among them are:

  • All "illegal" workers (i.e., those without valid papers / working elsewhere other than their original sponsors) before 6th April, 2013, would be allowed to leave the kingdom without penalty. Their fingerprints would be taken, if not done already, but there would now be no restriction on their return to the kingdom for employment, unlike earlier.
 
  • These workers are also allowed to change their sponsorship to any other sponsor without the need to take permission from their original sponsor. Transfer is possible even if the current sponsor witholds any documents. The only condition now is that the new sponsor must be in green category. Those who wish to check the category of the new sponsor can do so by visiting this link (click here). This is a huge relief for those whose sponsors are in red category and for those who are stuck in the kingdom because their sponsors have defaulted. Take a look at my earlier article (click here) in which this blog had highlighted how expats working in Saudi Arabia were suffering due to the faults of their sponsors.
 
  • Final exit or exit/reentry will not be stamped on these employees' passports for 3 months, starting from the date of transfer of sponsorship. This is to settle any outstanding issues.
  •  
  • Professions can be changed before 3rd July, 2013 without the need to pay any fees. The only condition is that these professions must not fall under those reserved exclusively for Saudis (read, easy-going-white-collared-jobs??). Some of these professions are clerk, receptionist, cashier, expeditor, etc. (And you thought they would be janitor, barber, cobbler, mechanic and carpenter?) Similarly, those who came to the kingdom to perform Hajj or Umrah before 3rd July, 2008 can obtain employment in the kingdom and they will be treated similar to the cases of "illegal" workers. Those who entered the kingdom illegally are not eligible for this concession.
 
  • The Ministry of Labor has grandly announced a customer service number, primarily intended to "help" expats, which is 920001173. Unfortunately, the guy at the other end speaks only Arabic (some service!), so I would advise you to keep an Arabic speaking person next to you, in case you want to use this. I would like to recollect to readers my earlier article (click here) about a similar helpless help line announced by the Ministry of Interior. Same is the case with the grand announcement that all details are available in the Ministry of Labor's website. Just take a look at it (www.mol.gov.sa) and you will understand how insensitive they are to expats by having all the information only in Arabic.
  •  
In related developments, the  ban on transfer of sponsorship of Bangladeshi expats has been lifted. Isn't it amazing that we never get to see an official announcement about these things, either the imposition or lifting of the ban? How could an entire community be blamed for the misdeeds of a few? And look who is talking about "discrimination" (click here)! What crap!
 
Foreign missions are now gearing up to beat the deadline of 3rd July. The Indian Embassy has collected 15000 passports of "runaway workers" from their original sponsors. These people can check in this link (click here) and can also call 01 4884697, 01 4881982, 0501699879, 0501700106, 0501699895, 0501699894. (P.S.After I published this article, I got an intimation from one of the readers Mr. Shaiku that there is a cheaper option. Scroll through the comments section). Similarly, the Phillipines embassy has in its possession 27000 passports while its consulate in Jeddah has 12000 passports. Filipinos can send an sms to 0569893301 with the text "Surrendered Passport" giving their last and first names, to find out if their passports are with their embassy. They can also call 01 4801918 or visit their embassy's website (click here). The Sri Lankan embassy plans to organize mobile consular services in Dammam, Hail, Al-Qassim and Saqaka. Nepali citizens can get in touch with their embassy by calling 01 4611108/ 4645170.
 
Meanwhile, there has been lukewarm response to the announcement that legal expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are now eligible to apply for GOSI (General Organization for Social Insurance). Remember in the eighties how expats were stripped of this right overnight? Expats do not want such cosmetic reforms. They just want to be treated well, paid on time and be able to live and leave with dignity.



 

23 comments:

Pradeep Dewasiri said...

Excellent post, Expatguru! It is amazing how you come up with loads of information each time.

Shaiku said...

yes, finally, finally great relief for most of the people stuck. For me, it's a different story, my sponsor already gave Final Exit, I need to leave in 3 weeks time and come on fresh visa...hmmm

Expatguru said...

Shaiku,

You must thank your stars that you got your exit smoothly. Whatever happens is for good. Good luck for your future!

Shaiku said...

Thank You Expatguru, I will be always obliged for your support through the website, it is really really helpful and am using it before entering saudi arabia since 2009...

Shaiku said...

Link for Ministry of Labor presentation to all embassies.

http://www.indianembassy.org.sa/WebFiles/Ambassador%20Meeting.pdf

For knowing company status we can send message to STC:888996, Mobily:626666 Zain:709446

Message Content should be 44*iqama number

Cost is SR.1.5 riyal

the redyellow.com.sa is not useful in this case as we need to register there and it will deduct SR.5 per week for registration.

Thank You,

Expatguru said...

Thank you Shaiku, for this very useful update. This blog has become enriched with contributions from such readers like you.

rasika kumara said...

What will heppen to people who working differnt posissions than the iqama ( exp . as per iqama labour but woring at office as a clerk )

Expatguru said...

Rasika,

There is a very severe penalty in addition to jail. If you are caught in such a situation, now is the time to act.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your updated information. what about who who are in green category and working with other green category.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

No problem for green to green category transfer.

Anonymous said...

how about those whos used to do domestic jobs then runaway long time ago, yet wanted to transfer to a private company as clerk but the documents are with the sponsor? could it be possible???

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

In this case, the best (and safest) way would be to go home on final exit, get duplicate copies of certificates and have them attested by the Saudi embassy, and then return legally on a fresh visa.

Anonymous said...

there are some filipino runaway domestic workers applying as cleaners in our company without their papers on hand. They filled up forms to apply for new passports with some affidavits (maybe of loss, cause their former employer has it)our company accepted them and will be working on their transfer. Maybe really just have to find an employer who is willing to accept you. :)

Anonymous said...

Do u have information about the Kenyans illegals in KSA? how can they know their status and leave the Kingdom?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Irrespective of nationality, if a person is an illegal resident in Saudi Arabia, he has to turn himself up at his respective country's embassy and apply immediately for an emergency certificate.

Anonymous said...

What about the teachers who work in schools. Do they also have to transfer their iqama or they can work on their current sponsorship?? Please explain.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

If you are a female teacher, you must transfer your sponsorship from your husband to the school where you want to continue working. Note that this would mean surrendering your passport to the school. From that point of time onwards, you will be bound contractually with the school. In other words, you cannot leave the kingdom as and when you wish as you are doing now. Also, if your husband changes his job, he has to go along with your kids and leave you alone in the kingdom, because technically you are no longer under his sponsorship. So, you have to make a decision whether it is worth this or not.

If you are a male teacher, you will have to transfer your sponsorship to the school immediately, if not already done.

Anonymous said...

Now that the illegally workers has been told to return to their country,wil they pay for their ticket fare or what wil happen coz may b many people dont hav money

Expatguru said...

This is still not clear. Saudi labor law says that it is the sponsor who has to bear the cost of final exit tickets. But if the worker has run away, then the sponsor can claim that he is no longer responsible for him. The best way is for the respective embassies to help out.

Vijo Varghese said...

Dear Expatguru,

Is there any charges required for transferring of sponsorship. As I attended an interview 3 days back, they asked me to pay SAR 4000/- (as mine is 2nd time of changing sponsorship)

please reply.

Expatguru said...

Not a single halala needs to be paid. If the new sponsor demands money he is not worth joining.

Anonymous said...

is it possible for wives and children overstaying beyond the sponsors(husband/father)death followed by iqama expiry , to go on an exit and return back within close time ( not the usual 5 years )on some other sponsorship available?

This is a very troublesome issue faced by many people here. any kind of help or clarification would be greatly thanked and appreciated. thank you.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I have already answered this question to you privately, but for the sake of other readers, let me answer it here again.

Any overstayer, whatever might be the reason, is an illegal resident. It hardly matters that the wives/kids were overstaying due to the death of the husband/father, as the system in immigration is immune to such reasons and only checks whether a person is staying legally or not.

If not already done, such people must immediately leave the kingdom before 3rd July, 2013. Doing so ensures that they would not be jailed and fined heavily. They can leave with dignity and can certainly return for employment on a fresh visa. Please do not waste a single moment longer.