Saudi job scheme favoring locals to hit Indians hard

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Saudi Arabia’s revised Nitaqat (or Saudisation) scheme does not bode well for Indian migrants. From September 2017, only a handful of organizations with high grades — based on the number of Saudi nationals employed by them and other criteria — will be able to apply for new block visas for migrant employees.

In 2016, there was nearly 25 lakh Indians working in Saudi Arabia, according to a reply in Lok Sabha. However, migration numbers are declining. There was only 1.65 lakh immigration clearances for Saudi Arabia in 2016, a decline of 46% from 2015. Top origin states in 2016 were Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar with Kerala being a distant fourth. The revised Nitaqat scheme, aimed at increasing employment opportunities for Saudi nationals, will cover private companies with six or more employees (as opposed to current criteria of 10 or more).

Only organizations in the ‘Platinum’ and ‘High Green’ categories will be eligible for new block visas. Construction and hospitality, sectors which have a predominantly blue collar Indian workforce, are unlikely to gain from such rules. “Others can obtain visas for expat employees only through a transfer of sponsorship. In other words, these organizations will be limited to hiring expat workers who are already in Saudi Arabia and have a work visa with another employer,” said an immigration alert from EY, a global professional services entity. “A majority of Indian workers are blue collar workers,” said an immigration expert.

Source Credit: Times of India
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