More than 141,000 Indians returned home from Saudi Arabia as of November 27 during the course of a grace period offered by that Gulf nation to illegal expatriates to rectify their residency status, the government said on Wednesday.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said that over 1.4 million Indians availed of the concessions offered during the grace period that ran from April 6 to November 4 this year.
Of these 141,301 returned to India “without facing penal action or no ban on their return”, he said.
The grace period was offered after the Saudi government introduced the Nitaqat or Saudisation policy that makes it mandatory for all Saudi companies reserve 10 per cent of their jobs for Saudi nationals.
According to the minister, there have been no reports of large-scale arrest of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia following the expiry of the grace period but “there may be a few cases of Indians from the very large Indian community who might fear deportation from Saudi Arabia as they did not avail the concession during the grace period”.
“Additionally, 481,233 Indians [in Saudi Arabia] changed their job/profession. Apart from this, over 470,000 Indians got their licences/job permits renewed,” Ravi said.
The UAE, another nation that is home to a large number of expatriate Indians, also offered a general amnesty to illegally staying expatriates from December, 2012, to February, 2013.
“A total of 7,923 Indians availed the amnesty,” the minister said.
According to him, in the early months of 2013, some Indian nationals were apprehended in Kuwait for not having valid residency documents.
“The embassy [of India in Kuwait] issued 1,081 emergency certificates for their early repatriation to India,” Ravi stated in his reply.
In Oman, the Indian embassy in Muscat helped in the repatriation of 404 Indians from December last year to November this year by providing them the travel documents and air tickets for their return to India, he added.