Philippines nationals living illegally in the Gulf kingdom of Saudi Arabia are hoping for an extension of the July 3 deadline that the Saudi government has set for them to rectify their status.
According to a recent report in the Arab News daily, Migrante, a Filipino worker group, has asked the Saudi government to extend its three-month grace period, ending July 3, for workers to rectify their status, arguing that there is not enough time to process the paperwork of thousands of workers.
The news comes after authorities in Saudi Arabia denied the requests of embassies as well as public and private sectors to extend the grace period for ‘illegal’ workers to legalise their status.
Saudi authorities ordered a crackdown of overstaying expatriate workers by rounding them up at their workplaces and labour accommodations in mid-April this year, and hundreds of them were reportedly nabbed during the drive.
However, they were given a temporary respite after Saudi King Abdulla ordered a halt to the crackdown and gave a 90-day grace period to allow such migrants to rectify their status or leave the country without facing any penalties.
However, Migrante Middle East and North Africa coordinator John Leonard Monterona has now been quoted by Arab News as saying that the three-month grace period, which is set to expire early next month, may not be sufficient for the affected embassies and consulates to handle the ‘huge numbers’ of such workers coming forward.
“With such huge numbers of ‘illegal’ migrants, all wanting to legalise their status or leave the Kingdom without any penalty, and considering the tedious process they go through, the 90-day grace period is not enough. Giving an extension is justified and reasonable,” Monterona was quoted as saying by the daily.
According to Monterona, there are an estimated 1.2 million illegal workers in Saudu Arabia, mostly from India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines and Bangladesh.