RIYADH, May 28,2017: The Indian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom have so far issued about 26,000 emergency travel passes to stranded Indian nationals wishing to take advantage of the general amnesty announced by the Saudi government to return home.
Ambassador Ahmed Javed advised the amnesty seekers who have obtained the travel passes to leave Saudi Arabia as early as possible.
Saudi officials have made it clear that the 90-day grace period granted to the violators of residency and labor regulations to leave the country without incurring penalties will not be extended. “Illegal residents who dream of such an extension must wake up from their slumber,” said Director of Passports in Madinah Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish. The general amnesty, granted within the “Nation Without Illegal Expats” campaign that started in April, will end by the end of Ramadan.
Maj. Gen. Jamman Al-Ghamdi, adviser to the director of Public Security, said as many as 276,000 expatriates received exit visas benefiting from the amnesty. He said more than 60,000 of them have already left the country.
While addressing reporters at the embassy premises, Ambassador Javed thanked the Saudi government and the passport officials for helping Indians by allowing separate counters at the passport office in Shumasi District.
Javed said in addition to Riyadh and Jeddah, 21 other centers were set up in different parts of the Kingdom. The diplomat advised Indians seeking emergency travel documents to visit the nearest center and apply immediately.
The Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah received a total of 26,713 applications for emergency travel passes and issued 25,894 since the general amnesty was announced 56 days ago. People from Uttar Pradesh formed the majority with 11,390 applicants while Telangana had 2,733 applicants, West Bengal 2,332, Tamil Nadu 2,022, Kerala 1,736, Bihar 1,491, Andhra Pradesh 1,120 and Rajasthan 853.
Deputy Chief of Mission Hemant Kotalwar was present along with the ambassador at the press conference. Counselor Anil Nautiyal welcomed the gathering.
The ambassador said 67 percent of people visiting the embassy were placed under the huroob (runaway) category and the embassy staff were trying to solve their issues as quickly as possible so that they could proceed to the next step of obtaining exit visas. He said the embassy was trying to send its officers to the passport centers to help the Indians obtain exit visas.
Javed reiterated that people listed as matloob (wanted) in criminal cases and those holding valid residence visas and passports were not covered by the amnesty. He added many employers were approaching the mission seeking help to transfer sponsorships.
He appealed to all illegal residents to utilize the amnesty period to leave the country, saying they could come back to work legally in Saudi Arabia at any time they wanted.
He said centers were opened throughout the Kingdom to help Indians seeking to leave the country save time and money and offer them hassle-free services to facilitate their travel back home. For further information and assistance, the Indian Embassy’s control room can be contacted 24×7 through its toll free number 8002471234, or mobile numbers 0542126762, 0542126748 and 0544205063, or by email: [email protected]