‘It’s unlikely that they will use this period to find jobs’

Though there is relief at the extension of the Nitaqat law – that seeks to deport migrants who had gone there through a Saudi citizen-sponsored “free visa” – by four months, many who have returned to the district say they will not use the grace period to search for a job in Saudi Arabia.

While the original July 3 deadline has seen an exodus of expatriates, many more are struggling there to collect enough money to return, said B.M. Mohiuddin, Karnataka in-charge of the India Fraternity Forum (IFF), a Saudi-based organisation working for the welfare of Indian expatriates.

“Most people have lost their jobs almost overnight after the laws were announced. Many have struggled to pay off their sponsor (Kafil) for an exit visa so that they could get another job there. They could not afford a plane ticket to return before deadline. At least now, they will have four months to collect money and book tickets... The sense of fear has subsided,” he said.

However, he believed it was unlikely that those who have returned will use this grace period to find employment there. “Thousands of Indians there are searching for a new job, and people here cannot risk going there for employment now,” Mr. Mohiuddin told The Hindu.

While Ryan Menezes – who along with six members of his family had returned to Vamanjoor after the imposition of Nitaqat – said they will not return; electrician Haris Malar said he will if a “good opportunity” comes his way.

Mr. Malar’s deportation came under “painful circumstances”. “The Saudi police arrested me and three of my friends, and said we will have to spend three months in jail if we did not leave the country immediately. Somehow, my family in Konaje managed to send some money to buy a ticket…it was a horrid time,” he said.

However, not given the time to collect his experience certificate from the company, he said it is difficult getting employment here.

Meanwhile, the IFF has submitted a memorandum to Air India last week, asking for subsidised air tickets for workers to return.

An official of Air India said all three weekly flights from Dammam were full, but denied that fares had been hiked.

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