Expat chaos reigns as Saudi fee payment software proves problematic

Published:  10 Jul at 6 PM
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Frustration and, in some cases, panic is building in Saudi Arabia’s expat community as online payment software for the new dependents fees proves not fit for the purpose.

The Saudi Gazette is reporting a swathe of texts and emails from expats desperate to stay legal regarding the new tax, all reporting problems with the e-payment programme. Crucial complaints include the software’s failure to update its records when the tax has been paid and, worse yet, visa cancellations for no obvious reason and with no explanation.

More than 2.2 million dependents have registered over the past week, resulting in Jeddah’s regional passport office seeing a massive surge of expats totally confused about the new system. It seems there’s a lack of clarity over when and how the new tax must be paid. One reason for the confusion was an announcement by the government last week stating expats wishing to leave for the summer must pay the levy in advance of their trips.

One expat professional working in Riyadh told the media his wife’s visa had been unexpectedly cancelled whilst she was in London visiting her family. She needs the visa for her return to Saudi and, according to her husband, the visa had been arranged before the fee was brought in on 1 July and was valid until August 20th. Her husband had returned to the Kingdom ahead of her and, when checking her visa status online, was horrified to find her visa had ‘expired’.

The dependent fee is structured to apply to wives, children, parents, wife’s parents, drivers and house workers, all of whom need to be registered under a sponsors’ name, and normally applies to expats working with commercial companies. Another cause of total confusion is the requirement that those who made arrangements to travel outside the kingdom before the fee was introduced must now pay the levy for all months still remaining on their visas.

One Indian worker was forced to pay the tax up until the date his wife and child’s residents’ permits expired, even although they’d left the kingdom before the tax was brought in. He was disallowed from getting his own exit visa until he’d paid the fee.
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