Tuesday Jul 20, 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced it has extended the validity of iqama (residency permit) and exit and re-entry visas of people stranded outside the kingdom, unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Saudi Gazette, the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has extended the permits, as well as the validity of visit visas, automatically, without fees, until August 31.
This extension, made on the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, is applicable only to expatriates and foreigners from the nine countries from where entry to the kingdom is banned, said the publication.
"The Minister of Finance issued an order in this regard as part of the continuous efforts undertaken by the Saudi government in tackling the effects and consequences of COVID-19," it wrote.
The Saudi publication said that the move is also part of the "preventive measures that guarantee the safety of citizens and residents and contribute to mitigating its economic and financial effects".
Jawazat said that the extension is automatic and is in cooperation with National Information Center. No Jawazat offices will need to be visited for the purpose.
Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on travellers arriving from 11 countries that it imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, still requiring quarantine procedures.
Travellers from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan, have been allowed entry.
The list did not contain Pakistan's name, which remains in the list of countries still banned from entering the kingdom.
In February, Saudi Arabia suspended entry to the kingdom from 20 countries, with the exception of diplomats, Saudi citizens, medical practitioners and their families, to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the state news agency reported.
“The Ministry of Interior announced that a temporary suspension for entry to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [from 20 countries] has been enforced on non-citizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families,” the Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.
The temporary ban, effective from February 3, included people arriving from Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States of America, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India, and Japan.
The temporary travel ban into the Kingdom also included those travellers who passed through any of the 20 banned countries 14 days preceding the implementation of the ban.
A similar ban was placed in December after a new strain of COVID-19 was identified in the United Kingdom.