Expats can make family visit visas permanent

Col. Mohammed Al-Hussain, Passport Department.

Col. Mohammed Al-Hussain, Passport Department.

A visit visa can be converted into a permanent residency permit for a close family member of an expatriate worker under special conditions, a senior Passport Department official said during a phone-in service with Arab News readers on Wednesday.

“Yes, this is possible,” said Col. Mohammed Al-Hussain, spokesperson of the department. “However, such a request has to be approved by the Interior Ministry.”

In the two-hour phone-in with callers, he also said it was possible for expatriates to place their elderly parents on their iqamas.

The Kingdom currently issues visit visas for expatriates’ spouses, children and parents of their spouses.

A caller from Riyadh wanted to know if his wife, who is in the Kingdom on a visit visa, could get it converted into a permanent residency permit or iqama.

Al-Hussain advised expatriates to abide by the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.

One caller asked Al-Hussain to explain the requirements needed for exit/re-entry visas.

“Everything is now online. There is no need to produce the exit/re-entry document at the immigration counter as was the case in the past.”

The caller then asked about the two types of online services — Abshir for companies with less than 100 employees and Muqeem for firms with more than 100 employees. The caller, a Pakistani expat, said the exit/re-entry papers issued under the Muqeem program are widely accepted at Pakistani airports but there are difficulties with the Abshir service.

The caller said while no documents are required at the Saudi immigration counters, back in Pakistan this was not the case. “When I was traveling back from Islamabad, I was asked to produce the exit/re-entry document,” he said.

Al-Hussain said he could not speak about other countries but “as far as we are concerned we don’t need the exit/re-entry papers anymore. Everything is online. Your passport is enough.”

He said those expatriates who don’t have anyone to look after their parents when they reach the age of 60, can approach the “Qanoon” and “Tadrees” (legal and studies) cell at the Passport Department with their case. “The Passport Department will rule on such cases by looking into all aspects of the request and their genuineness,” he said.





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