Saudi Arabia offers 90-day amnesty to illegal expats
The Saudi Arabia government has given foreigners staying illegally in the Kingdom 90 days to leave the country without penalties or correct their status.
Media reports from Saudi Arabia said the amnesty period will be effective starting March 29 and is part of the Saudi government's "Nation Free of Violators" campaign, which seeks to help undocumented expatriates.
A report on Gulf News said Prince Mohammad, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, ordered all concerned agencies and departments to ease the departure of all foreigners who wished to leave.
Following this development, undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia who wish to return home have started flocking to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to seek assistance.
"Nandito ako ngayon sa Philippine Consulate para mag-avail pauwi ng Pilipinas," said an OFW who identified herself only as Gracia. "Kasi nang malaman ko na may amnesty, sobrang tuwa ako dahil makakauwi na ako ng walang kaproble-problema."
Another OFW, Luwenog, who is from Cotabato, said, "Sobrang saya po namin dahil matagal na naming inaantay ang amnesty, gustong gusto na naming makauwi. Pagkakataon na naming makauwi ng legal."
Luwenog said he has been waiting for an amnesty for two years after he fled her abusive employer.
Philippine Consulate Consul General Imelda Panolong, for her part, encouraged the concerned Filipino workers there to avail of the amnesty.
"Sa mga kababayan nating nasa Jeddah at sa buong Western Region ng Saudi Arabia, nagpapasalamat po tayo dahil magkakaroon na tayo ng three-month amnesty na magsisimula sa March 29 until June," she said.
"Samantalahin po natin ito. Kasama po sa amnesty ay mga overstayers ng Umrah, Hajj at visit visa, mga expired ang iqama o mga hindi nagkaroon ng iqama," Panolong added. —Ronaldo Z. Concha/KBK, GMA News