• Riyadh extends amnesty for illegal workers

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    THE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has agreed to extend until July 24 its amnesty program for all foreigners working illegally in the country, giving undocumented Filipinos more time to be included in a mass repatriation to be undertaken by the Philippine government.

    Lawyer Raul Dado, executive director of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, on Monday said the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is expecting new registrants to come forward as a result of the extension.

    As of June 30, according to Dado, there were 12,000 applicants for repatriation, with more than 6,000 of them being processed for the trip home.

    Of the six-thousand, 1,080 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are waiting for tickets in Riyadh, while 1, 217 are waiting for tickets in Jeddah.

    “The timetable for the [repatriation of the]6,000 plus is as soon as possible, as all host- government requirements are complied with, and all private obligations of the overseas Filipino workers are settled,” Dado said.

    The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has urged Filipinos who are illegally staying in the kingdom to immediately avail of the amnesty by completing all necessary procedures in order to be issued their final exit visa and leave as soon as possible.

    “As per policy and the standard information campaign, the embassy will register as many [OFWs who] would like to register,” Dado added.

    The undocumented Filipinos were reminded by the embassy that the validity of the final exit visas being issued by the Saudi Immigration Office (Jawasat) for Amnesty Applicants is valid for 60 days and those amnesty applicants with expired final exit visas were advised to wait for further announcement from the embassy.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of KSA, in an advisory, reminded the Philippine Embassy to urge undocumented OFWs to avail of the amnesty before the end of the deadline to avoid legal problems.

    “Any violator of the residence permit and work regulations would be arrested after ending the grace period, the regulation will be implemented…,” the advisory stated.

    JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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