Non-Saudi wives issued permanent residence permits

A Cabinet decision taken two years ago granting permanent residency to foreign wives, widows and divorcees of Saudi citizens, has come into effect.

The decision will also give permanent iqamas to foreign mothers of Saudi children, with the state bearing the license fees.

“These women will be counted as Saudis for Saudization purposes if they are employed, and they will be treated like Saudis when it comes to education in schools, universities and government hospitals,” a source linked to the Cabinet, told Arab News.

Lt. Col. Ahmed Al-Leheidan, spokesman of the Passport Department, said the applicants should produce evidence to prove they are/were legally married to Saudi citizens and had children with them.

The applications will be reviewed in Riyadh before the permits are issued, and once they are, they will be valid for five years, renewable every five years. There is no specification regarding the age Saudi children must have to receive the passport.

“The wife of a citizen, or the mother of Saudi children can receive the permit after presenting her official marriage certificate, or the birth certificate of her Saudi children and her passport.

In the case of a divorced woman, she would have to bring her divorce document, family card and children’s birth certificates,” Al-Leheidan stated.

Al-Lehidan explained that the permits guarantee foreign women rights, whether they are divorced or widows, as well as their children’s rights.

A charity at present cares for about 7,532 Saudis abandoned by their fathers and husbands in 31 countries around the world, an official from the organization has revealed.

Tawfiq Al-Suwailem, chairman of the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awaser), said that Kuwait tops the list with 780 families and 3,495 individuals. This is followed by Jordan with 909 families, Syria with 283 families and 814 individuals, Egypt with 269 families and 643 individuals, and Bahrain with 121 families and 525 individuals. China came in at 31st place with one family. There were no records of Saudis marrying non-Muslims, he said.

Al-Suwailem said those Saudis who deny they have kin outside the Kingdom would be investigated by the Ministry of Interior. He said Saudis are marrying non-Saudis because of changes in traditions and customs, and the cost of marriages rising to over SR200,000.

Arab News reported recently that Awaser has found that 70 percent of Saudi fathers who marry foreign women and then abandon them and their children abroad are over 50.

Al-Suwailem had said 25 percent of these fathers are aged 35 to 50. Many of the Saudi men who abandon their families abroad use the excuse that they are afraid of being jailed for getting married without the approval of the Saudi government, he said.

Al-Suwailem called on the government to speed up procedures so that children of Saudis living abroad can return to the Kingdom. He said many wives and children living abroad are unaware that they can get support in the Kingdom.

Other countries with such stranded Saudi families include Morocco, Lebanon, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Philippines, Indonesia, US, India, Oman, Tunisia, Britain, Pakistan and Sudan.

Source Credits: Arab News

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