Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — AMBASSADOR Adnan Alonto welcomed yesterday the Gulf country’s leniency on expatriates’ visa.
In a message to SDN — Science & Digital News, the chief of mission of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, said “thousands will benefit” from the Kingdom’s easing of restrictions on visas and residency permits.
“This development will also remove complications on exit visa expiration brought about by the three-month lockdown,” Alonto emphasizes.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are more than 930,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), many with their families, in the Kingdom, working as professionals, skilled workers, and non-skilled such as domestic workers.
Riyadh alone is host to over 400,000 Filipino expatriates. For many years, Saudi Arabia has been the top destination of Filipinos going for employment.
The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is host to over one million Filipinos, such as Saudi Arabia, 938,490; United Arab Emirates, 541,593; Qatar, 198,000; Kuwait, 187,067; Bahrain, 158,644; and Oman, 39,483.
On July 5, Arab News reported the Kingdom’s extending visas and residency permits of expatriates for three months without any charge. It added that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud approved the move on the recommendationd by the Ministry of Interior (MOI).
The Kingdom’s move is one of its ways to lessen the impact of the lockdown imposed because of the Covid-19 global pandemic “to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on people, private sector establishments, investors and economic activities in the Kingdom. while taking preventive measures to avoid its spread.”
OFWs in the Kingdom who were hugely impacted by the lockdown — with many losing their jobs — have applied with the embassy in Riyadh for repatriation. The embassy have already repatriated hundreds of OFWs.
“While the visa extensions provided some relief to vacationing OFWs still waiting to resume their jobs in KSA, it’s primary beneficiaries are OFWs who are exiting the Kingdom for good. The ongoing repatriation efforts of the government will likewise benefit,” the ambassador points out.
King Salman approved the extension of the following visas, Al Arabia English reported:
– The validity of final exit visas for expatriates has been extended free of charge.
– The validity of expired Residence Permit (Iqama) for expatriates who are outside the Kingdom on an exit and return visa, which expired during the period of which entry and exit were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been extended for a period of three months free of charge.
– The validity of unused exit and return visas for expatriates that expired during the period of travel suspension has been extended for a period of three months free of charge.
– Exit and return visas for all expatriates who are outside the Kingdom, which expired during the coronavirus travel ban, have been extended for a period of three months free of charge.
– Residence permits (Iqama) for expatriates who are inside Saudi Arabia and had arrived on a visit visa that expired during the travel ban period, have been extended for a period of three months free charge.
It was learned the embassy is attending to the return to the Philippines of the remains of OFWs who died in the Kingdom. (SDN)
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