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Deadline Extended for Change of Expats’ Professions

Middle East : 11 January 2012

Source: Arab News

The Ministry of Labor has set Rabiul Awwal 30, 1433H (Feb. 22, 2012) as the last date for expatriates to change their professions in their resident permits (iqamas).

About 35,000 expatriates have benefited from the service since it was launched on Nov. 29, 2011.

“The changes were done electronically without referring to any labor office,” spokesman of the ministry Hattab Al-Anzi, adding that the service will come to en end on Feb. 22, 2012.

The ministry was providing this service to all expatriate workers disregarding whether they work in companies classified as red or yellow or green. “After this date changes of occupation will be limited to establishments in the excellent and green categories only,” the spokesman said.

He recalled the ministry had put some conditions on the amendment of some occupations including engineering. “Those who want to change their profession to engineers have to come in person to the labor office with documents proving their specialization,” he said.

Al-Anzi also said medical personnel such as doctors, surgeons, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and others have to show official licenses from the Saudi Medical Specializations Authority before having their occupations changed.

He explained that jobs limited to Saudis only were exempted from amendment. “These include directors of HR and PR, personnel specialists, time keepers, receptionists, cashiers, security guards, pursuers and others specified by the Council of Ministers,” he said.

The spokesman warned the ministry would take punitive measures against any establishment providing incorrect data about the occupations of their foreign employees. “The punishments may include preventing these establishments from foreign recruitment or suspending their licenses for periods of up to five years,” he said.

Human resources expert at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Al-Sharif Awad Al-Hibaili said giving expatriates an opportunity to amend their occupations was an important step toward organizing the Saudi labor market. “The Ministry of Labor has given all the private establishments and companies the opportunity to change the occupations of their foreign workers electronically without referring to the labor offices,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hamad Al-Rajbi, a public service specialist, said the change of occupation is a matter that also involves the Passports Department, which has to approve any change in the official papers of expatriates.

He noted many of the occupations that were amended involved simple labor. “Very few professionals were able to amend their occupations. They included a medical doctor who came to the Kingdom as a laborer,” he said.

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