Saudi Arabia extends grace period for illegals

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jul 02 2013 04:00 PM | Updated as of Jul 03 2013 04:22 AM

MANILA – The government of Saudi Arabia has given 4 more months to undocumented foreigners, including Filipinos, to correct their status in the kingdom or return to their countries.

"Here's good news. We were just informed by our embassy in Riyadh that the grace period for the correction of status for undocumented foreigners in Saudi Arabia was extended until November 3, 2013," said DFA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez.

Hernandez appealed to Filipinos to take advantage of the extension on the crackdown on illegal workers in the kingdom.

"Undocumented Filipinos are advised to take advantage of this extension, and immediately proceed to the concerned Saudi government agencies or to seek assistance from our embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia for their repatriation or regularization of their status," he said.

The Saudi government earlier postponed the crackdown on undocumented workers to July 3. But different embassies, including the Philippines, requested for an extension of the grace period to accommodate more expatriates who wish to continue working in the kingdom legally and repatriate those want to return to their own countries.

The DFA spokesperson said 15 undocumented Filipinos are scheduled to arrive in two batches on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first batch of nine Filipinos will arrive at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday on board Etihad Airways flight EY 424; the remaining 6 will arrive the following day via Etihad Airways flight EY 428.

"Upon their arrival, the number of Filipinos repatriated from Saudi Arabia will reach 815; 427 from Riyadh and the eastern region, and 388 from Jeddah," he said.

He also reported that as of June 30, 314 individuals are still staying at the camp near the consulate in Jeddah while 244 women and children are seeking shelter in the consulate.

The embassy in Riyadh, he added, is also arranging transportation for 29 pairs of mothers and children in Saudi Arabia's eastern region to join 590 pairs who are in Riyadh who will undergo DNA testing through the assistance of the Saudi ministry.

"The processing of passport-related transactions, issuance of travel documents, endorsement of Saudi government agencies, regularization of workers' status and our diplomatic representations are also continuing," he said.

He added, "We also advise our kababayans to cooperates with the embassy or consulate in order to make their repatriation and regularization procedures more efficient".