The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that specializes in labor and migration issues, lauded the decision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to extend by four months ending November 4, 2013 the grace period for all foreign workers to correct their status in Saudi Arabia.
Thousands of Filipinos including the personnel and leadership of the Philippine Embassy and Consulate General are now heaving a sigh of relief for this answered prayer, the Ople Center said, as it urged Filipinos to unite and help each other out in meeting this new deadline.
“Four months provide sufficient time for foreign workers to finalize the procedures needed to either transfer to a new employer or to come home without having to pay immigration penalties,” Susan Ople, president of the policy center said.
Among those heaving a deep sigh of relief are Filipino mothers with children born in Saudi Arabia without proper documents. “The deadline extension gives our embassy more time to help these women and their children out but they would also have to cooperate because the welfare of their children is paramount and the repatriation process can be quite tedious.”
Ople noted that in some cases, the mothers of children born in Saudi Arabia need to undergo DNA testing at the embassy as part of the documentation process. “Our embassy is providing the facility for DNA testing to ease the burden confronting these women. This deadline extension is an answered prayer for most of these women and their children,” she said.
The non-government organization stressed that a more coherent, practical, and wide-ranging reintegration program is needed to help OFWs to be affected by stricter immigration and work policies for foreign workers being implemented in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Singapore.
“Clearer and more practical reintegration options will serve to encourage those violating immigration policies overseas to just come home and start anew in their homeland,” the Ople Center said.