No lockup for not carrying Iqama

Expatriates caught committing minor residency law violations such as not carrying their Iqamas or carrying expired Iqamas are not to be detained.



Mansour Al-Shihri

Okaz/Saudi Gazette






RIYADH — Expatriates caught committing minor residency law violations such as not carrying their Iqamas (residence permits) or carrying expired Iqamas are not to be detained, according to an announcement from the head of the passports department (Jawazat).



Director General of Jawazat Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya said expatriates can only be detained by the passport police for major crimes.



“Expatriates caught without Iqamas or with expired Iqamas should be asked to pay immediate fines,” he said.



Al-Yahya said the Interior Ministry has started taking steps to reduce the number of cases of expatriates detained for petty residency violations.



“Measures are being taken to prevent the detention of expatriates for minor violations of the residency law,” he said, adding that there are committees to review the violations and decide whether they entail detention or not.



The director said the Kingdom’s detention centers release between 700 and 900 expatriates a day with minor violations.



The immediate fine for not carrying an Iqama — the most common violation among expatriates — is SR1,000.



Al-Yahya asked all expatriates to make it a point to always carry their Iqamas.



He said Jawazat is taking measures to expedite the procedures relating to expatriates.



“We are approaching a time when the Jawazat will not have any expatriates detained for passport violations,” Al-Yahya said.



The Jawazat has announced that Iqamas will be replaced with five-year-validity residence ID cards next year. The expat ID cards will have no expiry dates on them. The ID cards will be electronically issued and renewed through the e-services of Abshir or Muqeem every five years. The cards will stay the same, only their validity will be renewed in the system.



The new cards have a number of features which make them tough to tamper with or forge. The annual fee to issue or renew a card will remain the same, but expatriates will have to pay for five years at one time.