Millions of expatriates in Saudi Arabia, including Indians, heaved a sigh of relief as the government here has decided to issue permanent resident visas for workers families based on their financial status and not on their profession.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said permanent resident and visit visas were earlier issued only to engineers, doctors and executives and now it would only look at the financial status of an applicant, Arabic daily, Al-Yaum reported.

“The Ministry’s office in Riyadh issued such recruitment visas for three days last week and stopped it temporarily. It is expected that the Ministry would resume the service next month,” a Ministry official told the paper.

Following the report, a large number of Indian workers have approached the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate in Jeddah to include their spouses’ names in their passports.

Indian missions are now issuing new passports after including the spouses’ names.

The news is a big relief for many of the seven million expatriates, who are unable to bring their families due to their profession written on their ‘iqama’ (identity cards).

“Great news”

“This is a great news for thousands of professionals like me who are unable to bring their wives and children to the kingdom because of the profession in iqama,” the paper quoted Shabeer Ali, a computer engineer based in Jeddah, as saying.

Mr. Ali said he was trying to bring his family to the kingdom ever since his marriage. “Until now I could not, because they look at the profession on my iqama, which is an electrician. I had presented my Masters degree certificate in computer science attested by the Saudi Embassy, as well as my salary certificate, but they rejected my application,” he said.

He did not know about this problem before coming to the kingdom.

“I know that there are thousands of expatriate workers who are highly qualified and earn good salaries but cannot bring their families because of their profession,” he said.

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