Illegal foreign workers who have been deported from Saudi Arabia will no longer be allowed to return to the Kingdom under the new rules issued by the Saudi government this week.
Among the salient provisions of the new rules are:
- Foreign workers who work illegally for their own account, absconded from their sponsors, and overstayers will be apprehgended, penalized and deported;
- Those who employ illegal or absconded workers, provide cover, harbor or transport them, or “aids them by any means” will also be pursued;
- Employers will bear the cost of deportation of illegal workers except when the foreign worker works for himself in which case he will bear the cost of his own deportation;
- Ilegal workers who are unable to afford the travel ticket will be deported at the cost of the Saudi government;
- Overstayers will be deported at the expense of the employer, or, if he workers for himself, the company or person who sponsored his visit will bear the cost of deportation;
- All companies and individual employers, including government agencies, shall ensure that their workers obtain and renew their iqamas or work permits in due time;
- Deported foreign workers shall be prohibited from returning to the Kingdom;
- Offeding foreigners will be accommodated in Saudi government centers pending deportation
“We were informed that Saudi government issued new set of rules for those who violate labor and residency law after the grace period. They will be apprehended, penalized and deported,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez told a news briefing.
“With the new rules that were announced, it appears the Saudi government is very serious about apprehending violators of their labor and residency laws,” Hernandez added.
Three days since Saudi Arabia resumed its policy of going after illegal workers when the three-month grace period lapsed on Nov. 3, there has been no reported arrest of a Filipino national, he said.
The Philippine government said it does not have a figure on illegal Filipino workers in the Kingdom, but local labor groups said the number could be in the thousands.
On Wednesday, 12 Filipinos, whose documents have been processed and completed during the grace period, arrived in Manila from Riyadh at 9:55 a.m.
Their arrival brings to 4,587 the total number of Filipinos who were repatriated from Saudi Arabia since the grace period was extended twice this year.
Then as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 348 workers have sought shelter in halfway houses provided by the embassy for undocumented Filipino workers in Riyadh.
In Jeddah, around 700 undocumented workers are staying at the tent city outside Philippine consulate there.
Hernandez said most of them will not be arrested as their exit papers have already been processed. — RSJ, GMA News