Since 23rd April 2016, Pakistani media has been telecasting news that Pakistani expatriates are barred from traveling to their home country more than once a year. I have received hundreds of messages on different platforms to confirm the authenticity of the news. The purpose of writing this article is to clear the confusion among Pakistani expatriates about this news. Let’s start with the news itself, what is the news? There is a headline that “Pakistani Expatriates living in KSA can visit Home Country only once a Year”. Actually, Community Welfare Attache in the Pakistani Embassy in Riyadh has written a letter to the Saudi authorities inviting their attention towards restriction on some Pakistani workers to visit home once in a year. If any Pakistani faces the problems in going back home, he is advised to contact the Pakistan Embassy.[irp]
I know many Pakistanis who have been traveling to Pakistan and even my company has issued more than one exit re-entry visa to them. But several Pakistanis have also commented under this link that they are not able to issue exit re-entry visas for their families for the second time in the same Hijri year. One of them commented that when he was not able to issue his exit re-entry visa using online MOI account, he visited Jawazat office. Jawazat officials told him that they cannot issue exit re-entry visa for Pakistanis for more than once in a Hijri year.
When this issue was highlighted to a higher level of Jawazat officials, they came up with an answer that there is no ban on Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia to have 2nd exit re-entry visa within one year. Maj. Talal Al-Shalhoob, the media manager at the Passport Department in Jeddah, said that the information was wrong and that employers decide how many times they issue these visas for their employees. The Pakistani Consulate also denied the reports, saying that no directives for such a ban have been received from the Saudi authorities. Here we can establish that there is a problem which Pakistani expatriates living in Saudi Arabia have been facing. A denial of the problem will not improve the situation. Source: Arab News
One of the leading newspapers in Pakistan published a story that people only living in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia have been facing this problem. It seems to be true somehow as most of the people who commented on this blog regarding their problem of not having 2nd exit re-entry visa in the same Hijri year belong to Dammam and Jubail. Their iqamas have been issued from the eastern region. I am not able to understand the actual reason why Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia cannot issue more than 1 exit re-entry visa in the same Hijri year but I do understand that it needs the attention of Islamabad as well as Riyadh.
Even Saudi Government has been facing heavy losses due to this problem. Expatriates have to pay SR 200 for the issuance of exit re-entry visa. There are around 1.5 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia. Let’s say if 25% of them travel more than once a year, it is an SR 75 million loss to the government.
Circular by Pakistan Embassy, Riyadh
The following guidelines are given for the benefit of our nationals living in the Eastern Province for obtaining multiple and single exit re-entry visas. Exit and re-entry visas are granted in accordance with certain rules and procedures which are to be followed.[irp]
1-For exit and re-entry visas applicants must be registered with the online system of “Muqeem” and their family members in the “Absher” system.
2-The applicants’ jobs must be the one mentioned in his resident card (Iqama).
3-Certain professions like plumber, mason, carpenters, laborers, electricians are entitled to single exit and re-entry visas once a year. If they need to travel more than once, their sponsors have to provide a letter stating the reasons for the traveling duly attested by the Chamber of Commerce.
4-The applicants employed on jobs which entitle them for multiple entry visas have to produce a recommendation letter from the company duly attested by the Chamber of Commerce.