Ju;y 4, 2013
By IBRAHIM NAFFEE
The jobs of 2 million trained and qualified expatriates in the Kingdom are under threat because private sector firms are still allowed to hire workers from abroad, a business expert and financial advisor told Arab News here recently.
Fadal Abu Ainain said that while these workers apply to transfer to new sponsors, firms continue to recruit other foreign workers. This prevents these workers from correcting their status and staying in the Kingdom.
The Ministry of Labor is allowing this, he said. These expatriate workers have until Nov. 3 to correct their status, the new amnesty deadline for workers announced by the Saudi government on Tuesday.
Abu Ainain said that over 200,000 workers left the Kingdom during the first three-month amnesty period that ended on July 3.
“There are around 2 million expat workers who are trained and have professional experience and living in the Kingdom. This category of expat workers need to transfer their sponsorships to correct their status. The private sector can benefit from their services.”
“The Ministry of Labor must close the door to the recruitment of expat workers from abroad. The last three-month period saw many expat workers leave on final exit visas. Therefore the private sector needs to fill these vacancies by employing trained and qualified expat workers who are living in the Kingdom by correcting their status,” he said.
A lot of expatriate workers claim that their private sector companies are refusing to transfer their sponsorships. Many also said that the three-month grace period was not enough time for them to find jobs at companies in the Green Zone of the Nitaqat Program that would allow sponsorship transfers.
While some sponsors refuse to allow transfers, others pretend they have financial problems or are not allowed under the Nitaqat system to transfer workers, it is claimed.
Spokesman of the Ministry of Labor, Hattab Al-Enizi, confirmed in a previous interview with Arab News, that the ministry would punish Saudi sponsors and foreign workers if they do not have the proper documentation.
“Expatriate employees will be punished if they work for other businesses. The labor office’s inspectors are regularly checking companies to make sure they hire expatriate employees and transfer their sponsorships,” Al-Enizi said.
Expatriates can transfer to new sponsors if they have a letter of their new sponsor certified by chambers of commerce and industry in various provinces, an original or copy of a residence permit (iqama), a passport and SR 2,000.