Fingerprinting a must for all expat women in Saudi Arabia

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The Saudi General Directorate of Passports has made fingerprinting mandatory for the issuance of new residence permit (iqama) and final exit for all expatriate women.

Earlier, biometric data was mandatory for expatriate women only for obtaining a work permit, and it was optional for all other women.

Maj. Gen. Suleiman Al-Yahya, director general of passports, said that fingerprinting system for all passport services will be introduced for expatriate women in phases, and in the first phase this will be applicable to issuance of new iqama and a final exit.

Al-Yahya said that the fingerprinting system was there for expatriate women for the issuance of new iqama and a final exit since long time but it was only optional. The directorate has made it a condition for issuance of new iqama and final exit effective from March 23, this year.

Earlier, on March 31, 2012, fingerprinting was made mandatory for expatriate women for obtaining a work permit.

Non-working women dependents were exempted from submitting their fingerprints when applying for a new residence permit, amending their current status or requesting a replacement iqama.

Fingerprinting is compulsory for all expatriate male and female workers in the Kingdom. This is also a condition for other services such as a transfer of sponsorship, and iqama, in addition to driving license for men.

A biometrics system includes, but is not limited to, fingerprints, face recognition, retina or iris recognition, palm prints and DNA.

(This article was originally published in Saudi Gazette on April 8, 2014)