Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia announces automatic extension of expat residence visas

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Saudi Arabia has announced it will automatically extend residence permits (iqamas) of expatriates living in the Kingdom, local media reported Tuesday.

Earlier this month, authorities had announced that they would extend entry and return visas for migrants abroad for three months free of charge.

Visa extension decisions have been aimed at supporting the Kingdom's efforts in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals, businesses, the private sector and investors, and on economic activities.

“The government has issued several directives, including the categories exempted from fees and fines covering expatriates with valid iqamas who left the Kingdom on exit-return visas, but could not come back and their iqamas or visas have expired,” Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al-Yahya, chief of Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) said, the newspaper Saudi Gazette reported.

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Jawazat further clarified on its Twitter account that all of the extensions will occur automatically for anyone who is covered by the new ruling.

Saudi Arabia has been taking steps to shield its economy from the coronavirus. Authorities have already announced a wave of enormous cost-cutting programs and a tripling of value-added tax (VAT) to help counter the unprecedented economic fallout caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-May, when the announcements of costs were announced, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said the focus was on protecting the health care and livelihoods of Saudi Arabians.

“These are the priorities: The health care of people and the livelihood of people, and we want to make sure that we maintain our fiscal strength so that as the economy gets out of the lockdown, we are able to support the economy,” al-Jadaan told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.

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