Saudi Arabia has allowed a free extension of the validity of visas and iqamas of expatriates who were stranded in the country due to the travel ban amid the third COVID outbreak in the country.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that the kingdom’s finance minister approved a free-of-charge extension of validity of iqamas, exit, and re-entry visas of stranded ex-pats on royal orders. The move was directed at ensuring the safety of citizens and residents and mitigating its economic and financial impacts on expats.
Later, the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) also confirmed the development, saying that the extension will be done automatically in cooperation with the National Information Center.
The free extension in visas comes as a surprise to many non-residents, as in March, the Saudi government had asked the visitors who were trapped inside the kingdom to pay a fee to get their stay extended for up to 180 days.
The decision had been taken after Saudi Arabia decided to suspend all international flights for two weeks in light of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Note that Saudi Arabia had lifted the flight ban for most of the countries around the world on May 17, allowing stranded visitors, and expatriates to return to their home countries after a month of lockdown.