Authorities at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) responsible for dealing with residency visa violators are reported to be in a quandary, as there are now two categories of violators with each requiring separate penalties, prosecution procedures and type of deportation.

The two categories of residency law offenders are those who violated the law prior to 2019, and those who did so from 2019 till now. The number of violators in the first category are estimated to number around 50,000, while those who violated the residency law since the start of 2019 are said to be about 90,000.

The case of offenders in the second category requires a different approach to those in the first category, as these are people who did not take advantage of the amnesty granted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anas Al-Saleh in late March of this year. They chose not to avail of the liberal terms of the last amnesty, despite it allowing them to leave the country without paying any fines and to leave at the expense of the state.

While the offenders of 2019 only had a deadline to leave the country safely without any possibility to amend their legal status, the pre-2019 violators were given many opportunities to amend their legal status by paying the fines owed and applying for a valid residency in the country. They also failed to take advantage of the amnesty period. 

Informed sources say the issue of handling residency visa violators has become too complex, and that it needs a new and targeted strategy supervised by senior specialized security officials and to develop radical solutions to end this phenomenon permanently.

Despite there being a full prosecution plan to tackle all violators and rid the country of illegal residents, it has not been implemented so far. The concerned MoI departments are said to be awaiting the green light from the higher authorities, which is still forthcoming.

In the meantime, violators from both categories can no longer rectify their legal status by paying fines, so they remain in limbo as prosecution procedures proceed against them at a slow pace.

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