Thursday, January 6, 2011

PHL issues amnesty rules for Filipinos overstaying in Saudi

Philippine authorities in Saudi Arabia have issued guidelines to Filipinos who want to avail of amnesty for overstaying pilgrims and visitors there.

The Philippine Consulate in Jeddah said the amnesty covers those who have overstayed their Umrah (“minor" pilgrimage), Hajj (“major" pilgrimage) or visitors’ visas, and are seeking deportation.

In an article posted on the government portal, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Filipinos who wish to benefit from the amnesty will need to do the following to fast-track their deportation:

  1. Prepare the original or copy of the passport used to enter Saudi Arabia where the entry number was stamped or written;
  2. Prepare the money needed to purchase a one-way ticket back to the Philippines and 120 Saudi riyals, if without passport or passport has expired; and
  3. Approach the Consulate’s Assistance to Nationals Section for a briefing and issuance of Travel Document, as needed.

The following procedures shall also be observed:
  1. Upon presentation of the original or copy of the passport where the entry number is written, the Consulate shall obtain the appropriate computer printout record from the Jawazat for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. The printout is needed in applying for an exit visa, which is done during regular office days.
  2. Applications of overstaying Filipinos for exit visas are entertained only on Saturdays.
  3. The overstaying Filipino, who has obtained the computer printout of the record from the Immigration Office for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, will proceed to the Finger Printing Office to have his personal details, picture and fingerprint taken.
  4. The exit visa is stamped.
  5. The Filipino must exit within the very same Saturday. Failure to exit within the day would require redoing the whole process.

Deportation rules from Saudi authorities

Filipinos who lost their passports when they entered Saudi Arabia and who do not have a copy of their passports will be assisted by the Consulate by following up with the Saudi government their repatriation.

The Philippine government's guidelines came after Saudi Arabian authorities issued deportation guidelines for foreigners overstaying their Umrah, Hajj or visitors’ visas, and are seeking deportation.

The deportation procedures were issued by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Circular Note No. 91/74/27523/31 last November 24, 2010 following the royal amnesty issued in September 2010.

The amnesty took effect on September 25 last year and will end on March 23 this year.

"The note was [to] inform all Consulates of deportation procedures for overstayers who are either apprehended or who submit themselves voluntarily to authorities, whether they are holders of expired Umrah, Hajj or visitors’ visas," the DFA said.

Overcrowded deportation centers

Citing the need to resolve the issue of overcrowding at the Jeddah Deportation Centers, the note provided the following procedures, according to the DFA:
  1. For violations of the Saudi Law No. M/51 or the Labor Law:
    • Police authorities will provide the Saudi Labor Offices with a copy of the police report on cited violations.
    • The Saudi Labor Office will then decide on the overstayers’ labor cases by applying applicable regulations.
    • The Saudi Labor Office shall also inform the sponsors of the overstayers to present themselves to the Saudi Labor Office.
    • The overstayers may continue working until their labor cases are resolved.

  2. For violations of legal residents and Saudi nationals (without distinction), such as employing, transporting, helping or harboring those with no legal iqamas or residence permits, such as Hajj or umrah pilgrims, or visitors or tourists and the like:
    • The arresting authority will surrender the violator to the Directorate for Expatriates (Wafeeden) of the General Directorate of Passports (GDP).
    • The Wafeeden Directorate shall conduct an investigation and take the biometric information (fingerprinting and eye scan) of the individual
    • The Wafeeden Directorate may release the violator after presentation of guarantee (kafala) and penalty acceptable to the GDP (Jawazat) after it assured that any decision issued by the Administrative Committee of the GDP, either for repatriation or imprisonment, may be implemented.

  3. For violations of the terms of the hajj, umrah, visitor or tourist visas:
    • Upon arrest, the police authorities will turn them over to immigration authorities for investigation and biometric documentation (fingerprinting).
    • The owner of the hajj or the umrah, or the tourist company or the visitor’s sponsor shall be summoned by the Jawazat and shall be asked to provide their passports and airline tickets.
    • The Jawazat will issue deportation visas and will release the violators under the guarantee of a sponsor who must submit proof of their departure within two weeks of such issuance.
    • Failure on the part of the sponsor to submit proof of the departure could result in the suspension of his personal records and activities in the government’s computer system.

  4. For those who overstayed their umrah/hajj visas but who voluntarily surrender:
    • For those who present their original passports and tickets, the Directorate for Expatriates (Wafeeden) of the GDP (Jawazat) shall subject them to investigation and routine security checks before they are issued exit visas and are allowed to depart.

  5. For those arrested by the police authorities with no form of identification:
    • They will be turned over to immigration authorities.
    • They will be electronically documented by the Jawazat.
    • They will be detained until a decision, based on the investigation, is reached by the Jawazat authorities on whether or not they shall be deported or further detained.
    • Those who will be eventually deported after electronic documentation will never be allowed to enter the Kingdom again.

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