Saudi introduces new Umrah e-visa regulations

The latest visa procedures for Haj, Umrah, or employment also require the fingerprinting of the visa applicants.

Saudi introduces new Umrah e-visa regulations

Saudi Arabia has introduced new Umrah e-visa regulations for the current season that has just begun, Khaleej Times reported on Sunday.

The report said that "the latest visa procedures for Haj, Umrah, or employment also require the fingerprinting of the visa applicants. The new regulations also include the logging of the name of the responsible Saudi Umrah operator in the visa with the aim of tracing pilgrims that stay in the kingdom beyond what is legally permitted."

"According to Ali Hassan Al Nagur, head of the transport committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), specialists in this field can present their suggestions and ideas (at this establishment). This would smooth the flow of pilgrims and would eliminate overstaying. There are nearly eight million foreigners in the kingdom, which has a total population of 27.6 million."

Overstayers, especially those who come for Haj and Umrah, are one of the main problems faced by the kingdom's security agencies. According to the Passport Department, present regulations do not allow the conversion of Umrah or Haj visas into work visas. It costs Saudi Arabia SR420 million annually to send overstayers back to their home countries.

The kingdom spends SR60 million during Umrah season and SR60 million after every Haj. Another SR300 million is spent every year to deport workers who flee their sponsors.

Last Mod: 07 Nisan 2008, 08:50
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