The Passport Department has categorically denied any increase in the exit/re-entry fees.
“There is no change in the existing fee structure,” said Imad Al-Abdulqader, the official spokesman for the department in the Eastern Province. “We have not issued any circular in this regard.”
Talking to Arab News yesterday, he said: “As was the case before, a single exit/re-entry visa costs SR 200 and a multiple one SR 500. Nothing more, nothing less.”
On reports about the possibility of any increase in the future, Al-Abdulqader said: “We cannot speak what is going to happen in the future, but as of now, there is absolutely no change, we have not doubled the visa fee.”
Al-Abdulqader’s statement scotches all rumors that have been circulating among expatriates for quite sometime now.
“It is excellent news for all of us,” said a relieved Jamal H. Siddique, a longtime expatriate from South Africa. “For those who have large families like mine, those rumors about the doubling of exit/re-entry fees were quite unnerving,” he told Arab News.
He thanked the Passport Department for coming out with a categorical statement on the issue. “It was a hot topic of discussion among all expatriates,” he said. “We were continuously badgering our ‘mandoob’ to clear the air, but he would just say ‘maafi mushkila.’”
Abdul Rahman Mutaher, a Pakistani expatriate in Alkhobar, said he knew there was no truth to the rumors because he had gotten an exit/re-entry visa for his wife and children only last week. “I told my friends about the first-hand experience, but the rumors continued to circulate feverishly,” he said.
The rumors first started making the rounds when the announcement about the SR 2,400 levy on every expatriate working in non-Saudized private companies was first announced.
Rania Mustafa, a Lebanese teacher in Riyadh, expressed delight at the Passport Department clarification. “We were sick of these rumors and what had compounded our problem was that there was no official statement denying those rumors,” she said.
“If the rumors were true, then we had decided not to go on vacation this year,” said a Jeddah-based Indian teacher Suhail Ziad. “Doubling the visa fee would have meant that I would have had to dish out SR 2,400 for six members of my family, and with air fares looking skywards I just would not have had enough money to plan our vacation,” he said.
“Thanking you for breaking this good news,” said Suleman Yusuf, a Sri Lankan expatriate working in a Jeddah hotel. “It is a big relief.”