Nitaqat law: 90,000 return home from Saudi Arabia

Huma Siddiqui Posted online: Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Close to 90,000 Indians have come back from Saudi Arabia in the grace period granted by the Kingdom for undocumented workers under its Nitaqat rules. About 4,66,689 Indian workers have renewed their Iqamas (resident permit) over the last five months of the grace period, 359,997 workers have transferred their sponsorships and 355,035 workers changed their job titles to legalise their status.

The four-month grace period, granted by King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in July, ends early next month. With just a few days left to rectify the Iqama status for expatriates in SaudiArabia, the Indian government has given assurance to the Saudi government that there would not be any illegal Indian worker after the November 3 deadline.

“Many Indians have made use of the concessions given by the Saudi authorities and corrected their legal status or obtained final exits and left the country, without facing any penal action,” according to Hamid Ali Rao, Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The Indian ambassador offered this assurance to deputy minister of interior Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Salem at a meeting last week.

Official registries at the Calicut, Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram airports and a related online facility show that 13,048 of the returnees are from the state, and 70% of them from north Kerala. About 20% of the 84 lakh workers in Saudi Arabia are Indians, half of them Keralites.

The Indian embassy in that country had even launched a special drive aimed at helping Indians who have overstayed in Saudi Arabia and to create a database of Indians who have overstayed and bring it to the notice of Saudi authorities for appropriate action.

“The purpose behind this drive is to have a database of such Indians and to know their specific problems in order to explore the possibility of finding a suitable solution for them within Saudi rules and regulations,” a statement released by the Indian embassy in Riyadh said. The Indian embassy in that country even invited firms to come and hire regular employees who had corrected their status.