REGARDLESS OF JOB
JEDDAH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—The Foreign Ministry will issue permanent resident visas for wives and children of expatriate workers in the kingdom without considering their profession, Al-Yaum Arabic daily has reported.
“The ministry’s office in Riyadh issued such visas for three days last week and stopped it temporarily. It is expected that the ministry would resume the service next month,” a ministry source told the paper.
The news is a relief for many of the seven million expatriate workers, including more than a million overseas Filipino workers, who are unable to bring their families on resident visas due to the type of profession written on their iqamas.
The Foreign Ministry and the Recruitment Office issued only permanent resident and visit visas to those in white-collar jobs such as engineers, doctors, and executives. The Al-Yaum report said the ministry would only look at the financial status of the applicant.
“The family visa is no more linked with profession,” the source said. He said the ministry stopped processing applications in order to implement the new criteria.
“This is great news for thousands of professionals like me who are unable to bring their wives and children to the Kingdom because of the profession in iqama,” said Shabeer Ali, a computer engineer based in Jeddah.
Ali said he has been trying to bring his family to the kingdom ever since his marriage.
“Until now I could not, because they look at the profession on my iqama, which is an electrician. I had presented my masters degree certificate in computer science attested by the Saudi embassy, as well as my salary certificate, but they rejected my application,” he said.
He said he had never known about this problem before coming to the kingdom.
“I know that there are thousands of expatriate workers who are highly qualified and earn good salaries but cannot bring their families because of their profession. I take this opportunity to thank the Saudi government for changing this policy and consider it a great blessing from God.”
The Arabic daily said the ministry’s branches in Jeddah and Dammam have not implemented the new system as they have not been informed about the changed criteria.
Over the past three weeks, the ministry’s Riyadh office was issuing visit visas to all expatriate workers for their families without considering their profession.
KCM Abdullah, a freelance journalist based in Riyadh, told Arab News that hundreds of people, including laborers, farmers, and construction workers had benefited.
“Now they have stopped issuing visas to drivers and other house servants,” he pointed out. Some people claimed the visa rules were relaxed to mark the return of Crown Prince Sultan to the kingdom after a yearlong medical trip.
Abdullah said the ministry used to accept around 800 applicants daily, adding over 1,000 people stood in the queue from early in the morning to present their applications made through the ministry’s website.
He said the revised service started a week before the Eid Al-Adha holidays.
After hearing the news of the relaxation in visa rules a large number of Indian workers approached the Indian embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah to include names of their spouses in their passports.
Indian missions are now issuing new passports after including spouse names. People who want to include the names of spouses should attach attested marriage certificates. Those who have married recently should register their marriages by producing relevant documents. –Arab News