KSA announces six-month amnesty on overstayers
Visa violators told to leave Kingdom by March or face tough penalties
KSA has announced a six-month amnesty on illegal immigrants, saying anyone who has overstayed their visas could leave the country without fear of punishment.
The Interior Ministry said the amnesty would cover those who arrived in the Kingdom on Haj, Umrah, visit or any other type of visas which had expired, or violated Passport Department regulations.
"They have been advised to complete the necessary procedures for their departure by reporting to the nearest Department for Foreigners' Affairs (Wafideen) from Sept. 25, 2010 to March 23, 2011," the ministry said in a brief announcement.
The announcement went on to say that anyone caught violating visa regulations once the grace period ended could expect to be dealt with severely – with a fine or imprisonment. Those who helped or employed overstayers could also have their vehicles confiscated, face a fine, prison sentence and may even be subject to ‘slander by local newspapers’, the statement said.
The declaration of the amnesty comes two days before the Kingdom's National Day, which falls on Sept. 23, when Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah usually declares amnesty for a large number of prisoners, including Saudis and expatriates, arrested for petty crimes.
KSA has been trying to deal with its illegal immigrant problem for a number of years. The problem is particularly noticeable in Jeddah where immigrants flock to find work. Deporting illegal immigrants costs the Kingdom USD$112 million every year.