Expats in Trouble for Iqama Errors
Wrong entries on iqamas, including errors in names etc., landed several expatriates in the soup.
Expats complain that their names on iqamas which do not conform to their names in their passports are making problems during official transactions, especially in banks.
Some sponsors have also filed cases of forgery against their employees when they discovered that their names did not match with those in passports. Reports suggest that in some cases, even the nationality does not match with the information in the passport or travel document.
The Saudi immigration authorities have recently introduced e-service such as Abshir and other online services which provide a hassle-free system of passport services where both citizens and expats can complete their immigration formalities from home or the office.
Despite this development, they said that the jawazat (passport office) makes mistakes in writing their names or even their religion leading to delays in the receipt of their salaries and other official work. Urging the passport office to address the problem speedily, they have suggested the inclusion of proof readers who are familiar with the names of expatriates of different countries, to check that the information is correct prior to finalyzing and printing the iqama.
A Saudi journalist remarked that since the country’s official language is Arabic, not much attention is paid to the spellings of names.
“However, this can be an issue in a bank or government office which only accepts the iqama,” said an expat.
“I had this problem with my iqama and health insurance card but I really wonder how these errors happen considering that the officers are given a clear copy of our passport,” said Bantuas Pacalna, a Filipino.
Another Filipino said that he could not update his ATM card because his middle name was removed from his iqama at the time of renewal.
Sigrid Goldsmith, an Australian national, suggested that the person’s identity and relevant documents be checked before a person leaves the office. If the documents are not in order, you can tell them directly to alter the incorrect information and not to waste time by creating problems later.
“There should be an organized and efficient management system for checking one’s personal identity,” he added. John Monterona, a Filipino national and community leader said that although the Jawazat has the technological advancement the employees who are mostly Arabic speakers can make mistakes in putting down the right spellings owing to their being unfamiliar with the different countries the expatriates come from.