Iqama is basically a residential permit for expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. It is like an Identity card for the foreigner residing in the Kingdom which is accepted in hotels, airports, government offices etc. It has important information such as name, date of birth and sponsor’s name. However, the iqama also holds an expiry date and that is very important. The iqama can be renewed for a year or two. The employer must make sure that the iqama of his expat worker is renewed before it expires otherwise the employer has to face penalties for it. The employers will have to face heavy fines if the residential permit of the expats under their sponsorship is not renewed (or issued in another case) on time.
1-According to the Directorate General of Passports, the Iqama of the employee, therefore, has to be renewed three days before expiry otherwise, the employer will have to face a fine worth SR 500.
2-If the employer fails to renew the iqama timely the second time, he shall face a fine of SR 1000.
3-However, if this delay is repeated the third time, the expat worker shall be deported from the Kingdom.
This has been declared officially by the Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) on their website. Employees have rights over the employer, and this is one of the basic rights. The employer shall practice it. This will not only ensure that rights of labor are protected but also will help in regulating the labor markets properly. Jawazat has not only considered the matter of Iqama renewal but also has taken steps against firms employing illegal workers.
1-If any employer appoints an illegal worker, he shall face a fine as high as SR 25,000 along with a ban on recruitment for 1 year. If the employee is a foreigner, he shall be deported.
2-If the employer is found guilty of hiring an illegal employee, the second time, he shall face fine amounting SR50, 000. He shall also experience a 2-year ban on recruitment, jail for a period of 6 months and deportation if he is an expat.
The name of the firm will be disclosed and shall be published in such a case. Therefore, iqamas shall be issued and renewed timely; no one shall be exempted from the fine. Only National Information Center has the right to exempt anyone from a penal action only in a case found genuine. Problems related to workers shall be viewed and actions shall be taken.
Only then our economy will be strengthened. Workers are important for every organization. This is indeed a great step put forward by the Directorate General of Passports. These laws sound good, but we shall also make sure that these laws are practiced, as making law is much easier than enforcing it. May the Kingdom set an example where laws are not only made to blacken the papers but are practiced for the prosperity of the nation.