Expats urged to carry printouts of their Saudi reentry visas

Published:  28 Oct at 6 PM
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Overseas airlines based in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, are advising the Kingdom’s travel agents to tell their clients to carry a re-entry visa printout when they travel aboard.

The advice followed a number of complaints by expat workers returning to Saudi Arabia who had been refused boarding by airline staff due to their re-entry visa information not being in their passports. The confusion dates from September‘s issuance by the Saudi Passport Office of multiple entry visas including an official stamp in the applicant’s passport.

It seems that a number of airline officials are now demanding other forms of identification or re-entry visa printouts before they will allow legitimate travellers on board their aircraft. The situation isn’t being eased by the fact that single entry visa printouts are only available to those who apply for them electronically.

Since September, multiple entry visas are being issued by the Passport Office, with the visa itself recorded in the system but only by its number on the applicant’s passport. At present, airline staff are unwilling to take chances as, if entry to the Kingdom is refused, the airline must cover the return fare for the passenger.

Meanwhile, expats leaving the Kingdom are now faced with having to prove via official documents that they entered legally. The new rule was intended to trace workers who are now returning to their home countries after the end of the illegal worker amnesty period.

Unfortunately, for those who entered legally before 2002 when the biometric fingerprinting system was introduced, there is no way to officially prove they were not illegal immigrants as most had received their original passports from their countries’ diplomatic missions in the region. Southeast Asian countries' embassies are attempting to convince Saudi representatives that, as there are no land borders involved, illegal immingration was not possible.
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