Manama: Saudi Arabia will automatically extend expat residency permits (iqama) for another three months free of charge, according to a passport directorate statement.
This will be available to expats who are stuck outside the country due to the suspension of international flight services.
Earlier this month, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz ordered extending validity of expired exit and return visas for expats overseas for another three months free of charge.
The latest move came after many expats have been unable to return to the kingdom over suspension of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The authority said the extension will be done automatically for all expats who are covered by the royal order. This is an automatic extension and expats do not need to apply separately for this, the passport authority said.
The Saudi General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) would coordinate with the National Information Centre for the execution of automatic extension of expatriates’ residence permits.
“The department has issued several instructions, 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,” chief of the General Directorate of Passports Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al Yahya said.
The exempted categories consist of expats who hold exit-return visas or final exit visas but could not use them as well as foreigners who came to the kingdom to visit relatives or business, but could not leave.
The extension, which will be based on the request of the Ministry of Human Resources, will be applicable to only those whose work permit has been extended.SAUDANI
In an interview with Al-Ekhbariah channel recently, Al-Yahya said that the exemption from fee and fines also cover those expats who are residing in the Kingdom and who could not benefit from exit and reentry visas or a final exit visa issued for them due to the coronavirus related travel restrictions.
International flight services have been halted since March as part of measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
Foreigners make up 1.05 crores of Saudi’s total population of 3.48 crores.