Harsh penalties await violators post-amnesty

newsimageJEDDAH — The directorate general of passports has warned the violators of residency and labor violations who remain in the country after the 90-day general amnesty of harsh punishments. Saudi authorities announced the grace period as part of a campaign titled “Nation Without Violators”, which started a week ago giving a chance to illegal residents to leave the country without incurring any penalties. The punishment for the violators who may decide to stay in the country after the end of the amnesty period will include fines, imprisonment and deportation. They will be fingerprinted and will never be able to return to the Kingdom any time in the future, the passport directorate said in a statement. The immigration control has started receiving violators who are voluntarily leaving the Kingdom at all the air, sea and land exit points, the directorate said. According to a report published by local daily Al-Madina on Tuesday, the passport offices are providing the violators with quick services to complete their travel procedures. The passport directorate has made it clear that violators who avail themselves of the amnesty to depart will be exempted from the fines and will not be fingerprinted so that they will be able to return to the Kingdom legally if they wished. With the cooperation of the National Information Center in the Interior Ministry, the records of violators who do not leave the country within the amnesty period will be closed and they will be apprehended in a subsequent crackdown. Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish, director of passports in Madinah, has said as many as 229 violators have completed travel procedures at the passport offices in the city. He explained that the exit procedures have two stages: verification of documents and entry of data into the computer system, following which an exit pass will be issued to the violator. Huwaish said the campaign was aimed at enabling the violators to leave the country on their own free will. “The violators include those who came for Haj, Umrah or visit and overstayed after the expiry of their visas, infiltrators across the borders and people who failed to get their residency permits renewed, runaway (huroub) cases and those who have not been issued with residency permits after arriving in the Kingdom on work visas,” Huwaish said. He said the Haj, Umrah and visit overstayers can leave through the exit points after officials making sure that there are no restrictions preventing them from leaving the country. Expats with expired residency permits, those who have been reported runaway workers and those who have not been issued their residency permits will have to visit the passport offices for checking their records and obtaining exit papers. Huwaish said all of the Kingdom’s air, sea and land exit points are operating round the clock to facilitate the departure of violators benefiting from the amnesty. A representative of the Egyptian Embassy told Al-Madina that some 350 nationals in Jeddah and Madinah have completed exit procedures in the past five days.