Saudi authorities refuse to accept new Indian passports

DUBAI: In fresh trouble for Indians in Saudi Arabia, the authorities there have refused to accept new passports issued by Indian diplomatic missions.

Saudi authorities have declined to transfer data from old passports to the new ones submitted by Indian expatriates for updating, saying they have not received any official information on modification.

In the old passport, the passport holder’s photo was placed on the second page, whereas the newly issued passports have photos placed on the third page.

Though the troubled Indian expatriates have obtained a letter from the Indian Consulate confirming the validity of the new passport, Saudi officials are insisting on receiving confirmation through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Arab News reported today.

Passport holders are legal residents of the Kingdom with valid residency permits who have approached Passport Department to transfer data from their old passports to their new ones, commonly known as “naql maalumat”.

Yesterday, the Saudi passport office in Jeddah refused to update approximately 200 Indian passports for this reason.

Expatriates rushed to the consular service’s outsourcing agency and have lodged a formal complaint.

Indians in Saudi Arabia are currently facing trouble amid concerns over the ‘Nitaqat’ labour law that makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.

Indian Embassy in Riyadh has so far received about 60,000 applications seeking issuance of Emergency Certificates to leave Saudi Arabia over fear of possible job losses after the new labour law comes into effect.

The Kingdom this month announced a three-month grace period for Indian workers, who have travelled to the country illegally, to regularise their visa status, get new jobs or to return home if they register voluntarily with the Saudi authorities during the period.