Undocumented expats have ten weeks left to rectify their legal status in Saudi Arabia in a campaign which allows them to leave the country without incurring any penalties.
Those in the Kingdom illegally who wish to correct their status will be allowed to do so within a grace period announced in March.
The campaign, “A Nation Without Violations,” was launched by the Interior Ministry days before the amnesty period began on March 29 and seeks to allow illegal expats to leave the country without incurring the penalties associated with breaking the Kingdom’s residency and labor laws.
One of the key aspects of the process is that those who are undocumented will not have their fingerprints taken, allowing them to return to the Kingdom in the future.
Illegal expats “will be exempt from the consequences associated with the deportee fingerprint system,” the Passport Department confirmed in a post on its Twitter account.
The amnesty period allows various types of violators, many of whom are in legal limbo, to travel back to their home countries without hefty fines or prison sentences.
The campaign will benefit pilgrims who have stayed on in Saudi Arabia after completing their religious rites, expats whose residency permits (Iqama) have expired and employees with valid work permits but no Iqama.
Workers who have been designated as “Huroob” — absent without leave from their employer — will also be allowed to exit without fines. As will those who have entered the Kingdom’s territory illegally.
Violating the Saudi residency system begets deportation, a prison sentence and fines. The fine can range from SR15,000 ($4,000) to SR100,000 ($26,663), General Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of the Passport Department, told the Saudi state-run news channel Al-Ekhbariya.
In announcing the campaign, Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Naif urged violators to take advantage of the amnesty period and make use of the assistance provided by 19 governmental authorities.
The Interior Ministry said the amnesty offer is an extension of a similar grace period in 2013 granted by Saudi Arabia’s previous monarch King Abdullah. In 2013, 2.5 million people were able to correct their illegal status in the country.
The 2013 amnesty period was announced in April and then extended for three extra months to allow more people to take advantage of the window of opportunity.