Saudi Arabia denies grace period extension for illegals
Saudi Arabia has denied reports that the grace period for foreigners staying illegally in the kingdom to regularise their situation would be extended.
Social networks in the country posted claims that illegal foreigners would be given extra months to put their official documents in order.
However, the labour ministry on Wednesday said that there would be no extension while the interior ministry warned that there would be no leniency and that it would take stringent measures against violators.
Both ministries had for months urged all foreigners in the kingdom to take advantage of the grace period to make sure that their status was in accordance with the rules and regulations. The call prompted hundreds of thousands of people to queue up for hours to submit documents that would enable them to stay.
The grace period ends on Sunday. Around nine million foreigners live in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the construction and service sectors. They make up around one third of the total population in the kingdom.
Their number is likely to go down as the labour ministry has launched a strong to reform the labour market and encourage the employment of Saudi men and women in various sectors despite occasional stiff opposition from conservative forces.