‘Free visa’ dealers face crackdown
JEDDAH: P. K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS STAFF - Sun, Jul 14th 2013 12:30 AM
‘Free visa’ dealers face crackdown



The Labor Ministry is taking new measures to prevent illegal visa trade.
Officials said the ministry had amended the Labor Law to block fake firms from recruiting foreigners.
Work permits issued by fake companies, commonly described as ‘free visas’, are being blamed for various malpractices in the Kingdom’s labor market.
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih has approved amendments to Article 15 of the executive bylaw by adding cases when recruitment applications could be rejected. Nearly four million guest workers have arrived in the Kingdom on ‘free visas.’
“If any firm presented an application to the ministry or labor office providing fake information and was confirmed after inspection, all recruitment procedures for that firm will be stopped and the visas issued for that firm will be canceled,” the new law said.
“The ministry will not issue work permits to those who have been recruited on such visas. Punitive action will be taken against errants firm under anti-forgery regulations and other related laws,” it added.
Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej Al-Haqabani said the amended law would stop people from obtaining visas by providing false information.
“This comes in line with the ministry’s efforts to improve work atmosphere in the labor market and create more job opportunities for Saudi nationals,” he said.
Al-Haqabani called on all companies to provide accurate data in their visa applications in order to avoid punishment.
“This is another good move taken by the ministry to strengthen the labor market,” said Ibrahim Badawood, managing director of ALJ Community Initiatives.
“It will ensure recruitment of qualified and trained foreign workers,” he told Arab News.
At present many foreigners come to the Kingdom to get trained in various professions.
He advised Saudi companies against recruiting unskilled foreigners. They should employ citizens and provide them with on-the-job training, he said.



Badawood proposed that firms giving wrong information should be punished under the Nitaqat system.
According to one study, about 30 percent of job visas issued in the Kingdom ends up in the black market.
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