JEDDAH – The Ministry of Labor has advised expatriates not to pay their sponsors any fee for rectifying their status in the country.
This comes amid reports that unscrupulous sponsors are illegally charging expatriates between SR 3,000 and SR 15,000 for transferring their sponsorship and getting new residency permits.
The sponsors are taking advantage of the three-month grace period, which ends on July 3, for workers to sort out their work permits or go home. No fees are charged by the Saudi government for these processes. Ministry spokesman Hattab Al-Enizi told Arab News that expatriate workers are not obliged to pay any money to their individual employers to transfer their sponsorship.
Al-Enizi confirmed that there have been reports of Saudi individuals asking expatriates to pay them sponsorship transfer fees and “sometimes commission.” “The Labor Ministry wants to clarify that expats should not obey sponsors who are looking for money,” he said. He added that there are no penalties for such illegal behavior. “We don’t have any law to punish sponsors who are asking for money or commission. What we can do is to just warn expats not to pay money, when it’s the sponsor’s duty to pay the fees.”
Arab News spoke to a number of expatriates who said they had been forced to pay their sponsors a lot of money, even though they know they do not have to do so. Abdullah Al-Zaidi, a Yemeni private , said: “I’ve been working as a private for two years without the permission of my sponsor. The king’s latest decision encouraged me to correct my status and find a new sponsor. I have been looking for sponsors, but unfortunately all of them asked me to pay high amounts in fees, work for them at a low salary, and pay commission to their business managers.” “My new sponsor asked me to pay SR 10,000 to him and SR 5,000 to his business manager. They consider the SR 5,000 a commission.”
Al-Zaidi said he does not have a problem paying sponsorship fees, but not the commission. “It is totally unfair to pay that much money, especially when the king decreed that everything should be done for free. Those sponsors are really violating the rules, and undermining the efforts of King Abdullah,” he said. A Syrian who works for a Saudi business owner as a manager admitted that he is using the three-month grace period to make money.
“Since the decision was announced, most illegal workers in the company asked me to help them transfer their sponsorship. I have to get my commission too even though the Ministry of Labor facilitates everything. My boss knows this and agreed because he also asked the workers to pay sponsorship fees, which is against Saudi rules,” he said. Arab News found that expatriates have to pay between SR 5,000 and SR 10,000 and an additional commission for various services. If a worker does not have an identity card, the commission could be as high as SR 7,000. If the worker has an identity document but ran away from his or her sponsor, then the commission is about SR 5,000. For Asian expatriates who are working in unskilled, low-paying jobs, the commission is between SR 3,000 and SR 5,000. For Arab expatriates, including Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians and the Lebanese, the commission is usually between SR 6,000 and SR 10,000.