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Iqama rules for dependents cost expats a fortune.

Byline: Fatima Sidiya

JEDDAH: Foreign parents working in the Kingdom have been complaining about the Passport Department's requirements that oblige their children who are studying abroad to come back at least once a year to renew their exit-and-re-entry visas as well as residency A duration of stay required by state and local laws that entitles a person to the legal protection and benefits provided by applicable statutes.

States have required state residency for a variety of rights, including the right to vote, the right to run for public office, the
 permits (iqamas), which they say costs them huge amounts of money. The requirement also causes great difficulties for many students because their travel plans often clash with examination schedules and other important assignments.

Nabil, an Ethiopian student who had been living with his family in Jeddah, had to go to his home country to pursue higher studies. Since then he had to come back to Jeddah once a year and has spent SR12,000 on tickets just to renew his legal status in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. . In most occasions he said he would find difficulty coming because of his exams. He is now considering letting his iqama lapse (language) LAPSE - A single assignment language for the Manchester dataflow machine.

["A Single Assignment Language for Data Flow Computing", J.R.W. Glauert, M.Sc Diss, Victoria U Manchester, 1978].
 and starting the process of obtaining a new iqama after his studies.

A father, who did not want his name published, said that after sending his children to study abroad he had to bring them back to renew their iqamas. Failure to follow proper procedures, such as renewing the iqama after expiration EXPIRATION. Cessation; end. As, the expiration of, a lease, of a contract, or statute.
     2. In general, the expiration of a contract puts an end to all the engagements of the parties, except to those which arise from the non- fulfillment of obligations created
, could subject him to a SR10,000 fine.

Another father complained about the lack of suitable higher education higher education

Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art.
 institutions where expatriates can enroll their children. Saudi public universities offer free tuition for citizens, but foreign students have to pay hefty heft·y  
adj. heft·i·er, heft·i·est
1. Of considerable weight; heavy.

2. Rugged and powerful. See Synonyms at heavy.

 fees, which are not affordable by most expatriate Expatriate

An employee who is a U.S. citizen living and working in a foreign country.

Some parents suggest that Saudi missions abroad should be allowed to renew the students' iqamas. Others said the Passport Department should scrap the requirement of the physical presence of dependents in the country at the time of renewing expatriates' iqamas. They also called for more flexibility in exit-and-re-entry visa regulations.

The Passport Department currently issues the dependents of foreign workers foreign workers

Those who work in a foreign country without initially intending to settle there and without the benefits of citizenship in the host country. Some are recruited to supplement the workforce of a host country for a limited term or to provide skills on a
 exit-and-re-entry visas with a maximum one-year validity, provided their iqamas are valid for the duration. However, expatriates must renew their dependents' iqamas along with their own every two years in order to avoid repeating the entire iqama-application process.

Maj. Muhammad Al-Husain, the spokesman of the Passport Department in Makkah province Coordinates:

Makkah Province is the most populous province of Saudi Arabia, located in the west of the country, with an extended coastline.
, said his department has not received any complaints from expatriates in this regard. He said he does not believe many expatriates are facing such problem. "Only 15 percent of expatriate families are affected," he added.

Al-Husain, however, advised foreign workers facing such problems to submit their complaints to the department so officials could raise the issues before higher authorities, which could result in an eventual easing up of procedures.

The spokesman said he does not expect the authorities to consider the possibility of iqama renewals at the Kingdom's foreign missions.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 15, 2009
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