(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudis are being made aware that hiring overstayers as household maids is against the law and authorities are preparing for new plans to seize and deport them, said Mohammed Al-Hussein, spokesman of the Passport Department.
"The Passport Department is always on the hunt for overstayers by searching homes and arresting brokers who are responsible for lodging, employing or moving overstayers between cities," he said. "We target only those who break the law by working in the Kingdom without legal status and without a Saudi guardian. We search for them and then deport them back to their country," he added.
Al-Hussein told Arab News that the passport department is in charge of issuing legal IDs, iqamas (residency permits) and papers for non-Saudis coming to Saudi Arabia. They are the sole department responsible for receiving missing persons' reports when it comes to runaway workers and they are also in charge of searching for overstayers and illegal workers, including drivers and housemaids.
The rising cost of recruiting help is the main reason behind why some families opt to hire illegal housemaids, especially when they stand the risk of employing a maid that might leave them.
"Recruitment offices in the Kingdom charge a fee that ranges from SR 10,000 up to SR 15,000 to hire a housemaid from her home country with a legal visa, but then we also pay for tickets, health insurance, food and housing," said Nayla Abdulrazak, a housewife. "We train and teach them our cooking style, how to iron, wash and clean the house because they come with zero experience and after that, most of them run away or go for their weekly day off and never come back," she added.
"It is much easier hiring a runaway maid or overstayers with expired visas because they earn only a basic salary and we don't have to take care of anything else," said Abdulrazak.
Police only arrest maids who are accused of committing a crime, not runaways, said First Lt. Nawaf Al-Bouq, spokesman for the Jeddah police.
"According to the regulations, policemen are not allowed to get involved in the search for runaway maids; this is usually carried out by the passport department. We only interfere when the employer accuses his maid of theft or any criminal act," he said. "We then liaise with the passport department to join forces and search for the suspect."