E R R A T U M
In the April 16 article “Saudi Arabia Restricts Re-Entry of OFWs”, the relevant Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia memorandum to accredited recruitment agencies says that all Visa applicants except household workers are required to submit their old passports, if any.
Visa applicants without old passports are required to submit from the Department of Foreign affairs certificates that the passports issued for them are first.
There is no mention in the memorandum of an NOC (No Objection Certificate) being required for returning OFWs in their old passports. Arab News regrets the error.
RIYADH, 16 April 2007 – Starting today, ex-Saudi OFWs arriving in the Kingdom with new companies and contracts have to provide their old passports stamped with a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) from their previous employers.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy in the Philippines outlined the new directives in a memo that was circulated on April 4, which comes into effect today. The new directive is in response to an increase in numbers of complaints by many Saudi firms, whose Filipino workers have ran away.
Osama Basim, not his real name, told Arab News that his company recruited young inexperienced graduates from the Philippines for various real estate projects. After a few months they started disappearing one-by-one. Later he learned that they had gone to work elsewhere for better pay. Basim believes the new directive will stop this practice from continuing.
The new memo is said to affect thousands of OFWs intending to return to the Kingdom and hundreds of recruitment agencies in the Philippines.
The circular stated, “Effective April 16, all visa applicants, except domestic helpers, are required to submit old passports together with their visa applications. Those without old passports must submit a Department of Foreign Affairs certificate that their passports are their first.”
Another restriction mentioned in the memo is that even if the OFW has an NOC in his passport, the job category that he is applying for in his new job should be the same as the category of his previous job.
These two rules will reduce the number of OFWs that qualify for work in the Kingdom in both the professional and skilled categories, since very few employers readily agree to issue NOCs to departing OFWs.
Recruitment agencies with pending job orders will now have to choose workers with NOCs in their passports (old or new) and match those workers with the visa categories supplied by employers.
Saudi Arabia is the largest market for OFWs with 200,000 Filipinos entering the Kingdom on either first time and renewed contracts. There are close to one million Filipinos living in the Kingdom.
Compounding the problems facing recruitment agencies is the refusal of the Saudi Embassy in Manila to accredit newly licensed agencies for visa attestations, applications for visa stamping and the release of stamped visas.
Hundreds of newly licensed agencies by the POEA are faced with this problem and have to spend extra funds for accredited agencies with the Saudi Embassy to release visas.
Saudi Arabia Restricts Re-Entry of Ex-OFWs
Abdul Hannan Faisal Tago, Arab News