Al-Haqbani: Illegals can return on new visas
Saudi-only job categories reduced under Nitaqat
JEDDAH: TAREK MISHKHAS & NADIM AL-HAMID
Monday 20 May 2013
Last Update 20 May 2013 2:14 am
Expats who leave the Kingdom on an exit visa will be able to return the moment they get a new work visa, said Deputy Minister of Labor Mufarrej bin Saad Al-Haqbani.
In an exclusive interview yesterday, he stressed that his ministry has urged companies to recruit those who are in the process of rectifying their status.
“One of the goals of the recent campaign to rectify the status of visa overstayers and those who are violating labor laws is to allow companies to hire them locally instead of bringing in new people from outside the Kingdom.”
He added that this situation is also ideal for companies since it will reduce their expenses and help them appoint employees who are familiar with Saudi laws.
He also said the profession of a worker is now being changed free of charge.
Al-Haqbani said this is the first time different ministries are working so closely together in response to complaints by workers that there is no coordination between his ministry and other government bodies involved in the process.
“Minor problems are only due to misunderstandings,” he explained. He also urged embassies to get in touch with the Labor Ministry to clear any doubts. “We will be delighted to relay any problem to other government bodies to help solve them,” he stressed.
He said his ministry is preparing a brochure on labor laws in different languages for distribution to foreign missions in Saudi Arabia.
Expats had faced the problem of working under unconventional job titles such as laborer, technician and other job titles that did not match their qualifications or their real positions within their companies. However, this will no longer be the case since all companies are advised to change the profession of their employees via the Labor Ministry’s website.
“This was a big problem in the past since the Ministry limited more than 150 job categories to Saudis only, so companies could only get visas for other professions,” Al-Haqbani said, adding that the number has since been cut to 19 job titles that are limited to Saudis. “We ask every firm to correct the job title of its employees and to state the correct title when applying for visas,” he stressed.
The deputy minister said that the Nitaqat system has forced the owners of more than 600,000 firms to register with the ministry. He added that Labor Minister Adel Fakeih had earlier said that 340,000 firms faced closure since they did not have any Saudi employed. But that situation is changing, he said and that companies have responded favorably to the new stipulations.
The ministry will begin inspecting firms after the grace period ends on July 3. It has appointed 1,000 inspectors for this purpose.
“We also enjoy the cooperation of the Interior Ministry and the Commerce Ministry, among other government bodies,” Al-Haqbani said.