RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has allowed the issuance of quarterly residency permits linked to labour licences for migrant workers, a step allowing partitioning related fees.According to the Saudi news agency SPA, the government has approved issuing and renewing such permits for a minimum of three months and splitting up fees charged on labour and residency permits.
Based on the new decision taken at a weekly cabinet meeting, the fees will hinge on the duration of the issued and renewed permits. Domestic workers are excluded from the arrangement.Labour licences in Saudi Arabia are issued for expatriates to allow them to be legal workers and residents.
Foreigners account for around 10.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 34.8 million people.It is pertinent to mention here that in November 2020, Saudi Arabia announced to ease key restrictions on millions of foreign workers, as part of plans to reform its labour policy.
Human rights groups have repeatedly called on the kingdom to abolish its “kafala” sponsorship system, described by critics as a modern form of slavery that binds workers to their Saudi employers.
The ministry of human resources and social development said that from March 14, expatriates will no longer need their employers’ permission to change jobs, travel or leave Saudi Arabia — home to some 10 million foreigners.
“This initiative will improve and increase the efficiency of the work environment,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
“The exit and re-entry visa reforms allow expatriate workers to travel… without the employer’s approval after submitting a request, (and) the employer will be notified electronically of their departure,” it said.
Sattam Alharbi, a deputy minister at the ministry, said the reforms will abolish “runaway” reports against foreign workers who do not report for duty, which effectively renders them criminals at risk of being jailed and deported.
“These changes are not small changes — it’s huge,” Alharbi told Bloomberg News in an interview.