Residence permits (iqamas) of expatriates benefiting from a recent royal decree will automatically extend; the Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) has said.
Earlier this month, King Salman ordered extending validity of expired exit; and return visas for migrant workers abroad for another three months free of charge.
The move came after those expatriates failed to return to the Kingdom over suspension of air travel; due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Jawazat officials would coordinate with the National Information Center, an affiliate of the Interior Ministry; for the automatic extension of expatriates’ residence permits without the need to apply.
“The government has issued several directives, including the categories exempted from fees and fines covering expatriates with valid iqamats who left the Kingdom on exit-return visas, but could not come back and their iqamas or visas have expired,” Jawazat chief Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al-Yahya said.
The exempted categories, added the official, comprises expatriates who hold exit-return visas or final exit visas but could not use them. In addition to foreigners who came to the Kingdom to visit relatives or business, but could not leave.
Responding to a tweet in which an expatriate who is now outside the Kingdom asked whether it was required to submit application for the extension of the period of the iqama of which the validity is expired or do it automatically, the Jawazat explained that the extension will be done automatically for all expatriates who are covered by the royal order. 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.
In an earlier interview with Al-Ekhbariah channel, Maj. Gen. Al-Yahya said that the exemption from fee and fines also cover those expatriates 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.
Foreigners make up 10.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 34.8 million.
International flights to and from the Kingdom have been halted since March; as part of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19.