Egypt’s minister of manpower has urged Egyptians in Saudi Arabia who have been pardoned by local authorities after overstaying their visas to exit the country swiftly, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
Thirty thousand Egyptians were pardoned last week by Saudi authorities after having been found to have committed visa violations, amid implementation of new, stricter measures for foreigners in the kingdom.
The pardon exempts the Egyptians from punitive measures that workers who overstay visas would normally face, including deportation, fines, a 10-year ban from entering Saudi Arabia, and the confiscation of financial, educational and work privileges, provided they leave the country within three months.
Saudi interior ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Torky told Saudi newspaper Okaz last Monday that Saudi authorities will give the Egyptians 90 days to adjust their status and leave the country without deportation, which would allow them to return to Saudi Arabia in the future.
Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan has called on pardoned Egyptians to exit the country swiftly in order to avoid the punitive measures.
Al-Ahram reported that he has instructed labour ministry representatives in Riyadh and Jeddah to seek out Egyptian workers and to ensure that they are briefed on how to proceed.
The minister clarified that Egyptians who applied for the pardon included those who residence visas were not renewed, who were absent from work (therefore jeopardising their visas), who received permission to work but not a residence visa, who went on pilgrimage without permission, those who overstayed visas, and some who entered the country illegally.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia implemented a new system requiring foreign nationals performing the pilgrimage to Mecca to fulfil a number of requirements including demonstrating valid pilgrimage visas at the time of departure; those without valid visas are registered as violators and their fingerprints taken.
Some 2.5 million foreign nationals have been deported since the implementation of the new system, according to Al-Torky.
The pardon is a result of talks between Egypt and Saudi Arabia regarding the deportation of Egyptian families who violate residency and pilgrimage regulations.
Hundreds of Egyptians based in the Gulf country who had violated their visas had requested Cairo intervene on their behalf, as they were unable to work or have access to banks, education, or residences.