Saudi authorities have arrested about 3.95 million foreigners who were living in the country in violation of labour and residency regulations and deported 982,113 of them to their respective countries since November 2017, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said quoting interior ministry officials.
The interior ministry launched a nationwide crackdown against illegal residents on Nov. 15, 2017, with the participation of 19 government departments including the Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, reports Saudi Gazette.
The campaign officials said as many as 3,947,267 expatriates were arrested for violating the residency, labour and border security regulations.
They said 982,113 of the detained residents were deported to their respective home countries.
A total of 3,083,103 expatriates were arrested for violating residency regulations, 607,834 for violating the labour law and 256,330 for breaching border security.
The officials said a total of 67,299 people were apprehended while attempting to sneak into the Kingdom through its southern borders. About 45 percent of the infiltrators were Yemenis, 52 percent Ethiopians and the rest (3 percent) constituted people of various nationalities.
The officials also said 2,811 people were caught while attempting to leave the Kingdom illegally.
According to the campaign officials, as many as 4,547 people, including 1,609 Saudi nationals, were arrested for providing transportation and accommodation to illegal residents.
They said 1,581 Saudis detained for sheltering illegals were questioned, punished and released while 28 others were still being investigated.
A total of 12,731 expatriates are undergoing punitive measures at present, in line with the regulations. Of these, 11,113 are men and 1,618 are women.
On the spot, penalties were imposed on 547,697 violators. A total of 501,493 expatriates were referred to their concerned embassies and consulates to issue them travel documents while 659,063 were waiting for flight bookings to leave the country and 982,113 were deported.
The security clampdown to flush out all illegal expatriates from Saudi Arabia seems to have achieved its objectives with the coordinated efforts of various security agencies.
The interior ministry launched the Nation Without Illegal Expats campaign on March 29, 2017, with an initial 90-day grace period for all visa overstayers and violators of residency and labour laws to leave the country without incurring any penalties.
Due to the huge rush of undocumented workers wishing to leave the Kingdom, taking advantage of the general amnesty, which allowed them to return to the Kingdom later on legal work visas, the grace period was extended a number of times until it finally ended on Nov. 15, 2017.
The Passports Department and several foreign diplomatic missions opened facilitation centers in various parts of the country to help expatriates wishing to leave the Kingdom on their own to complete the procedures.
Saudi authorities estimated that more than 750,000 people belonging to 140 nationalities had benefited from the amnesty when the grace period finally ended. But hundreds of thousands of others remained in the Kingdom, either determined to stay back heedless of the consequences or unable to avail themselves of the amnesty offer.