Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has begun to clamp down yet further on expats caught working illegally. Considerable fines and even jail time have been threatened against employers found to be employing illegal workers in the Kingdom.
In the latest wave of attacks, the Saudi Arabian government has successfully arrested almost 175,000 foreigners that the government claims were working illegally. This is an astonishing body of workers and goes to show not just how prevalent illegal workers are in the country but also how effective the Saudi government is becoming at weeding out these illegal workers.
According to the Interior Ministry these workers – all of whom have been arrested in the last month – were guilty of breaking an assortment of employment laws. In some instances they were found to be working for someone other than their approved sponsor. In others they were caught working in roles not covered by their expat visa. Further expats have been found working without an active residency permit. Other workers were found to be illegal expats who had entered the country without permission from the government.
There are, it seems, an awful lot of ways to upset the government, and a lot of people willing to do just that in the hope of earning a wage.
Perhaps with this latest initiative the problem will become rather less prevalent in Saudi Arabia, thanks to the introduction of new penalties sure to scare off many illegal workers – and the employers who willingly hire them against local government rules.
The Interior Ministry has not mixed their words regarding the potential penalties being handed out to illegal workers and their employers. Workers, for example, can find themselves being slapped with considerable fines that low-paid expat workers may struggle to meet.
The worse penalties, however, are for employers found to be in breach of the rules. In such circumstances the fines, which may be up to SR100,000 will be the least of their worries. In extreme cases employers may be banned from recruiting new workers for a period of up to five years, and may even be imprisoned.
Perhaps even more interestingly, these same penalties are now to be rolled out to anyone caught transporting – or even assisting – illegal workers. The government claims to have already confiscated over 100 vehicles suspected of being used to transport illegal workers. Anyone caught “harbouring” illegal expats may find themselves on the receiving end of these strict new rules.
It seems clear that the Saudi Arabian government is taking no prisoners in its push to ensure that only legal and pre-approved expats are working within the Kingdom.
To date the government claims to have generated over SR45 million as a result of these fines, and has deported thousands of illegal workers caught within the boundaries of Saudi Arabia.