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Updated: July 1, 2013 12:42 IST

India getting Saudi exit visas for Nitaqat-hit emigrants

J. Balaji
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A file picture of Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.
The Hindu
A file picture of Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.

"There is no way except to obey the Saudi Arabian law," says Vayalar Ravi

As the deadline for expatriates without valid work permits or employment in Saudi Arabia is set to end on July 3 under the Nitaqat (naturalisation) labour law, the Indian government has made elaborate arrangements for their smooth exit as they have to leave the Kingdom before the expiry of the deadline.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told The Hindu over telephone from Kochi on Sunday that the process was being carried out by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and its consulate in Jeddah and so far he had not received any complaint. “There is no way except to obeying the Saudi Arabian law,” he said, adding that he had no information about the possibility of the King extending the deadline.

10 per cent quota

As per the law, every firm in the Kingdom, both private and government, has to reserve 10 per cent of jobs for Saudi nationals. This would apply to everyone, including small shops and other commercial establishments. Those expatriates, who are found without work permit or valid documents, could be arrested and heavily penalised by the law enforcers.

Of the around 20 lakh Indians working in Saudi Arabia, majority of them belonged to Kerala. Informed sources said the Nitaqat would mainly affect the semi-skilled workers. The amnesty was supposed to end in March this year but the King gave a three-month extension up to July 3.

The Indian Embassy in the Kingdom is giving Emergency Certificates to such expatriates (around 75,000) who have registered themselves with the embassy authorities, and has asked them to get their final exit visa from the Saudi government to leave the country.

Though expatriates from many Asian countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Yemen are working in Saudi Arabia, a majority of them belong to India.

Arab Spring

The idea of reservation came after the Arab Spring and Riyadh wanted to take measures to ensure employment for its youth. Indians who changed jobs without getting an endorsement on their visas might be in trouble.

The Kerala government, which expected large-scale return of jobless Keralites from Saudi, has taken proactive measures by trying to rehabilitate them, including providing interest-free loans.

Informed sources here said the problem in implementing Nitaqat for the Saudi employers was that not only they had to reserve 10 per cent jobs but also give a minimum of 3,000 Saudi Riyals (one Riyal is equal to about Rs. 15) per month as salary to them. Whereas expatriates workforce, including Indians would work for even 900 or 1000 Saudi Riyals per month, they said.

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The issue is not very simple as many people think. It affects the
Indians from all States (mostly from UP, AP and Kerala) who are working
in KSA. Definitely many Indians have corrected their status but many
more remain. The decision from King Abdullah has filled joy among many
of its citizens as well as expatriates. I hope that the working
documents whose are not proper will be rectified by this extension

from:  Jaleel Pareed
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 19:20 IST

Many of us should recall the collapse of Uganda's economy in the 1970s
after Idi "Dada" Amain expelled Indians from there. Well, it may not
come to that in SaudiArabia, but hardworking Keralites are going to be
soon missed or hard to find. Human Resources should never be underrated.

from:  Rajan Mahadevan
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 18:11 IST

It is sure the king's order is a big relief to keralites who are illegally staying in Saudi Arabia. Keralites are small part of illegal workers here. As per the news reports it is only 25% are keralites remaining 75% are from other states. So the Heading is inappropriate.

from:  kunhalan kutty
Posted on: Jul 2, 2013 at 15:16 IST

So Saudis are going to work as labor or mason for 3000 riyals? I doubt it. A year from now they will be asking for more people to come do their dirty jobs.

from:  malik
Posted on: Jul 1, 2013 at 11:08 IST
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