26,500 Indian job seekers in Saudi Arabia to return under amnesty scheme | india-news | Hindustan Times
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26,500 Indian job seekers in Saudi Arabia to return under amnesty scheme

They were staying in Saudi Arabia either without valid documents or overstayed their visas with a hope to get another job.

india Updated: May 29, 2017 23:55 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Indian job seekers
There are 30 lakh Indians in Saudi Arabia, which makes it the largest expatriate community in the kingdom.(File Photo)

Over 26,500 job-seekers — who were staying in Saudi Arabia either without valid documents or overstayed their visas with a hope to get another job — are slated to return home under a 90-day amnesty scheme announced by the kingdom in April.

Indian officials said this was an opportunity for the nationals to correct their “status” in the kingdom and return to work in Saudi should they get opportunities in future.

There are 30 lakh Indians in Saudi Arabia, which makes it the largest expatriate community in the kingdom. And the kingdom is home to largest Indian passport holders outside India.

Sources said Indian mission in Saudi Arabia issued over 25,000 travel documents to nationals who availed the amnesty scheme announced in April. Officials hope those who availed the exit passes will leave the country as Saudi authorities made it clear that the amnesty under the “Nation Without Illegal Expats” campaign will not be extended.

According to a statement by Jamman Al-Ghamdi, adviser to the director of Public Security in Saudi Arabia, as many as 276,000 expatriates have been handed exit visas under the amnesty scheme so far. But Indian officials conceded that it was not easy to convince people to leave the country as they are hopeful of finding work and making their stay legal.

“We have set up over 20 centres across the kingdom to sensitise citizens to avail the amnesty and leave the country without any legal hassles of paying the penalty,” said an official.

Of the 26,713 applications for emergency exit, Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 11,390 forms. There are over 2,000 applicants each from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, and over 1,000 from Bihar, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

A substantial number of people are reported to be in the runaway category (those run away from their sponsors). Under Saudi law, consent of the sponsor is necessary to get an exit visa.

The amnesty scheme is not extend to those who are involved in any criminal cases.