A Saudi announcement and extension of an amnesty period allowing illegal expatriate workers to fix their status is a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan’s Consul General Aftab Ahmad Khokher told the Saudi Gazette.
“It is great that expatriates can easily transfer their sponsorship, in addition to changing profession free of cost,” he said.
Saudi Arabia launched a campaign to capture and deport illegal expat workers, most of whom are from Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Phillipines.
A three-month grace period was declared in April; allowing workers to rectify their illegal status in the country, and to travel to their home countries without being banned from entering the kingdom in the future.
Just before the deadline on July 3, King Abdullah extended the amnesty until Nov. 3, reported the Saudi Press Agency.
Legal action is to be taken against those who miss the deadline.
The Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia is organizing job fairs to help their nationals correct their status and find employment opportunities, reported Arab News
About 1,200 Pakistanis participated in the second fair, which was held this month.
The kingdom launched a program in late 2011 demanding that companies hire Saudi nationals along with expats.
The required number of Saudi employees depends on a company’s size and its total number of workers. Fines and other penalties, including the withdrawal of work permits, have been set to ensure compliance.