Irregular OFWs in Saudi told to correct status

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Saudi Arabia has released the guidelines for irregular workers to correct their status or leave the country without obtaining a “No Objection Certificate.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) urged yesterday overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with status problems in Saudi Arabia to correct their residency and labor status.

Irregular OFWs have the following options: Return to their original employer upon mutual agreement, or  Transfer to a new employer even without permission or consent of the original employer. 

Companies can correct the occupations of their workers during the grace period without charge.

Escaped OFWs can return to their original individual employer or transfer to a new individual employer. 

The prospective individual employer may complete the procedure for the transfer of the worker through the Jawazat Offices (Saudi Passport Office).

Household workers can also transfer to a private sector company through the Saudi Labor Offices. 

Illegal Filipino workers have the option to leave the country (final exit) without the need to obtain a No Objection Certificate from their current employers, provided they do not have a criminal charge or record.

They will also be allowed to return if they are able to obtain a valid working visa. 

Hajj and Umrah (pilgrims) overstayers who arrived before July 4, 2008 can correct their status either as a household service worker or as private sector company worker. 

Overstaying Hajj and Umrah who arrived after that date may leave without penalties.

All penalties and fines accruing to an illegal worker before April 6, 2013 will be waived, except for regular processing charges. 

Private rights claims between a Filipino worker and his/her current employer will be settled through the court. It will not prevent the Filipino worker from transferring to a new employer.

Employers are now obligated to hand over to the worker all his personal documents – passports and residency permit (iqama) – upon request. 

Employers are also obligated to make sure that the residency permit (iqama) of workers is valid. 

Failure to do so is sufficient grounds for a worker to end the contractual relationship.

The deadline to avail of these concessions is July 3, 2013. 

Thereafter, the Saudi government will resume inspections and arrest and/or fine violators – both employers and employees. 

Details of the guidelines are available in both Filipino and English on the Philippine embassy in Riyadh’s website:   

Affected OFWs may also contact the Saudi Ministry of Labor’s customer service number, 920-001-173.

Irregular Filipino workers are advised to read the guidelines carefully and make their way to the nearest Passports Office or Labor Office.

For further inquiries, irregular OFWs may call the following numbers in their respective regions: Riyadh, Hail, Qassim, Northern Border, Al-Jouf – 054-591-7834; Eastern Region – 050-126-9742; Jeddah and regions under the jurisdiction of the Philippine consulate general in Jeddah (Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Tabuk, Al-Madinah, Abha, Jizan, Najran) – 0555-219-613 or 0561-956-14. 

The Ministry of Labor will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. in addition to regular working hours. 

The embassy will also extend hours, and will inform Filipinos accordingly. 

Filipinos wishing to look for a prospective employer may check the Ministry of Labor’s website   

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