Confusion Over Plan to Limit Expats’ Stay to Maximum 8 Years

2015-0311 Confusion Over Plan to Limit Expats’ Stay to Maximum 8 Years

DAMMAM — There are conflicting reports coming out of the Labor Ministry about whether it intends to limit expatriates’ stay to a maximum of eight years or not.

Ministry spokesman Tayseer Al-Mofarej denied any intention to limit expats’ stay, but a source from the government department told Makkah Arabic daily on Monday that the issue is under study.

The source said once the study has been approved, a directive would be issued to limit the tenure of foreign employees and implemented in stages to avoid any serious repercussions to workers or employers.

He said the proposed rule followed a decision of Gulf countries to limit the stay of foreign manpower in member countries.

A US newspaper claimed on Friday that the Kingdom was moving toward limiting the stay of expatriates to eight years on a non-renewable basis.

The Wall Street Journal said limiting the tenure for expatriates in the Kingdom was part of the government’s efforts to contain unemployment and rectify the negative impact foreign manpower had on the labor market.

Khalifa Al-Dhibaiyeb, chairman of the committee of contractors at the Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticized the move and said it would severely hurt private establishments and companies.

He said it was impossible to limit the stay of skilled workers who are in constant demand by the labor market.

He said: “This cannot be a solution to the problem of unemployment. The issue needs a carefully-studied solution that will correct the negative impacts resulting from the expatriates’ long period of stay in the GCC countries, especially in terms of demographics.”

The chairman proposed that expatriates could be allowed to stay in the Kingdom continuously for a period of 10 years, and should not be prevented from coming back to continue his old job if he has to leave.

According to unconfirmed reports, an expat’s stay will be decided on points based on factors such as number of years spent in the Kingdom, number of dependents, and the salary drawn by him. An expatriate staying with his wife and two children will accumulate 2 points. Those who draw a salary of SR6,000 or more will accumulate 1.5 points. Those completing four years of work will be awarded 1.5 points. An expat’s iqama will not be renewed once he accumulates three points.


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