Saudi Arabia makes biometrics mandatory for all expatriates

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Foreigners living in Saudi Arabia must register their fingerprints by early next year or they will be denied new residency permits, say authorities.

The Kingdom’s passport department has said it will not issue new or renew residence permits unless foreign workers and dependents over 15 submit the biometric data by 21 January, 2015.

“We have carried out this assignment systematically and gradually, by aligning the issue of iqamas [resident permits] for newcomers at the airports with the registration of their fingerprints,” Arab News quoted Major Ahmad Fahd Al-Luhaidan, spokesman of the department, as saying.

Al-Luhaidan said the department has set up passport offices in major cities and towns as well as deployed mobile units.

While fingerprinting of foreign female employees was first introduced in 2012, in April this year it was made mandatory for all foreign females.

Saudi Arabia also this month made it mandatory for visa applicants to record their biometrics before traveling to the Kingdom to make the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.

Under the new rule, which comes as part of efforts to streamline the visa process and reduce waiting time at entry points, biometrics will be recorded at select agencies through registration centers in foreign countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has mandated VFS TasHeel International to manage and administer the Saudi Arabian visa application process from Nigeria, which will also combine the mandatory enrollment process of fingerprint collection and photo capture of all applicants.

(arabnews)

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