Indian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao has appealed to the Indian community in the country to utilise the 3-month grace period to either regularise their stay or return to India, after the Kingdom adopted a new labour policy.

“Our Embassy in Riyadh and our Consulate in Jeddah are currently undertaking a major campaign aimed at helping our fellow Indians in Saudi Arabia in their efforts to regularise their stay or to return to our homeland with dignity,” Mr. Rao said in a statement yesterday.

“I urge all our fellow Indians in Saudi Arabia to utilise this grace period to correct their status. We live in a foreign land and we should respect and obey the laws of this country,” the ambassador said.

He thanked the country’s rulers for offering three months’ grace period to correct the visa status of those affected by the Nitaqat programme and for adopting a humanitarian approach.

“In our Embassy, we have been in constant touch with the Saudi authorities at all levels to request a humanitarian approach to those affected by Nitaqat programme and to help those Indians overstaying in Saudi Arabia. The Joint Group recently set up between the Ministry of Labour and the Embassy of India discussed all issues pertaining to the welfare of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

‘All informed’

He said all Indians who travelled to Saudi Arabia legally have been informed that will be allowed to regularise their visa status, get new jobs or return to India if they register voluntarily with the Saudi authorities during the grace period.

“Those having legal cases against them have to settle the cases before they could get an exit. Our discussions with the Saudi authorities to finalise the modalities for regularising the legal status and the return of those affected are continuing,” the statement said.

Delegation meets Saudi minister

A delegation led by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi recently met Saudi Arabian Labour Minister Adel Fakieh to convey India’s concern over the Nitaqat programme that makes it mandatory for local firms to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians.