There is a ray of hope for thousands of Indians who have been stranded in Saudi Arabia and want to return home through the 90-day amnesty scheme. In fact, around 20,000 Indians are already availing of this scheme to return back to their country.
The Saudi government has set up an exclusive centre in Riyadh for Indian nationals who want to exit the country. The scheme are for the Indians who are living illegally or whose visa has expired.
Anil Nautiyal, counsellor (community welfare) at the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia, said that 20,321 Indian nationals had applied till Monday evening under the scheme.
The embassy had appealed to all Indians staying in Saudi Arabia illegally to take advantage of the amnesty that is available in 21 locations across the Kingdom. A similar offer in 2013 was restricted to illegal immigrants in Riyadh and Jeddah only.
Out of the total workers, around 1,500 from Tamil Nadu have applied so far under the scheme. Most of the other workers are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Nautiyal told an Indian newspaper The Times of India, “The majority of applications we received were from blue collar workers wanting to return to India. The numbers are fewer than during the 2103 amnesty period but many families who overstayed now want to use the scheme to return. Volunteers are assisting embassy officials through the entire process. We have put up tents in the embassy and consulate for the Indians who have applied to fly back to India."
Nautiyal said Saudi officials are giving out passes (one-way travel documents the authorities issue to Indian nationals to travel back home in the absence of passports) and exit visas free of charge to applicants. While they are facilitating the exit process, the applicants have to pay the flight cost.