Everyone needs to be aware of the fact that it is illegal to stay in Saudi Arabia beyond the duration allowed on Umrah visa. Similarly it is disallowed to work, either on payment or voluntarily, in the Kingdom on Hajj or Umrah visa.
There was a time a few years ago when it was still disallowed to overstay on Hajj/Umrah visa but people from the poorer countries used to stay beyond their visa and seek employment in Saudi Arabia and couldn’t get caught. But with the passage of time, as the violations continued to increase, the government of KSA has altered the rules and implemented new penalties to make them ever more strict.
Umrah Companies in Violation
Several Umrah companies have been held accountable for selling Umrah Visas to the agents that work outside the Kingdom. These agents in return sell the visas to the brokers on profit and the brokers sell these visas to the pilgrims who already have an intention of overstaying. Such violators not only break the laws but also ruin the sanctity and the higher purpose of the pilgrimage.
The companies who are accused of violating the Umrah visa rules would be shut down for being involved in this illegal activity. According to the president of the Haj and Umrah Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “The Ministry of Haj will also cancel bank accounts of Umrah companies that violate the Umrah visa law and refuse to take responsibility for the timely repatriation of Umrah performers”.
Most of the pilgrims who overstay their Hajj or Umrah visas are from Egypt, Pakistan, India and Yemen. Instead of leaving the kingdom after fulfilling the rituals, these people prefer taking odd jobs and some of them would not even mind being beggars. In the year 2012, out of 5.6 million, more than 11,000 Umrah pilgrims stayed beyond their visa.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj Bandar Hajjar mentioned: “Umrah service providers will not be allowed to request for Umrah visas if 500 pilgrims or one percent of the total pilgrims on their list overstay their visas”
Since the issuance of the statement from the Minister of Hajj, the number of overstaying pilgrims has considerably been reduced compared to the previous years.
Penalty on Overstaying Umrah Pilgrims
If a pilgrim is found staying on Umrah visa exceeding the expiry date and started working for someone in Saudi Arabia, then he would immediately be taken into custody and punished according to the following procedure:
- A fine of SR 10,000 or one month in prison or both.
- A copy of his documents shall be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so as to report the Saudi Embassy in an expatriate’s country to hold off giving him Umrah visa as well as visit visa before a year minimally for his deportation.
- The overstaying expatriate shall be deported at his own expense.
- Moreover, a new plan has been finalized and it says that the expatriate deported from one GCC country would be banned from all the GCC countries to enter on work visa.
The ministry is carefully coordinating with all relevant sectors and government agencies to make sure that no single Umrah pilgrim overstays his/her visa. The ministry is also making ceaseless efforts to provide Umrah pilgrims with all essential amenities to confirm that they complete their rituals contentedly.