Saudi ruler King Abdullah extended the ‘Nitaqat’ deadline by four more months and has given undocumented expats time till November 4, 2013, to have their status corrected. The decision is set to provide relief to thousands of migrants based in the Islamic country, including hundreds of people from Kerala.
A royal order cited by a Ministry of Interior statement and carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday said the three-month grace period, which ends on July 4, will be extended to the end of the current Hijra year 1434, that is November 4, 2013. Once the new deadline expires, inspections by appropriate agencies such as the labour and interior ministries, will resume in various regions of the kingdom and all penalties will apply to violators, the statement said, reported New Indian Express.
This is the second time the kingdom has given relief to the expatriates, as ‘Nitaqat’ was originally supposed to end in March and the King had given a three-month extension, the report added.
Saudi Press Agency said the new deadline would allow many expats to complete their undocumented work. The interior and labour ministries urged all undocumented expatriates to come forward and have their status corrected.
“According to the data available, 8,559 Keralites have returned to the state in the three months since April 2, after Saudi Arabia first gave a three-month ultimatum”, the report added.
“It is believed that in the past three months, 16 lakh people have either rectified their residence status or have left Saudi Arabia because of Nitaqat. This includes about one lakh Indians,” Malayalam Manorama reported.
Image: Illegal immigrant workers wait in line at the Saudi immigration offices in Riyadh.
Photograph: Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters