Saudi Arabia to allow children of visa overstayers to enrol in schools

Parents or the children's guardians must rectify their residency permit issues within the academic year

A Saudi schoolboy wearing a face mask in a classroom in Riyadh. Reuters
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The children of illegal migrants will be allowed to enrol in Saudi Arabia's schools in the new academic year, the Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday.

The ministry said schools should provide parents with admission forms and contact the education ministry’s offices in their region of residence to process admission forms. Parents or the children's guardians must rectify their residency permit issues within the academic year.

“This can help those individuals whose Iqama (Resident ID) has expired and since it can be financially challenging for parents to pay the renewal fee (which can go up to SR 2000 per individual) for the whole family, children would be stuck in a dire situation and miss out on education. This way they will get some more time to pay off other dues without sacrificing on their children's education,” Fatima Abdullah, a Saudi administrator at a local school in Jeddah, told The National.

All schools across the kingdom have been asked to provide a monthly statistical report to the General Administration of Evaluation and Admission about the number of pupils who are enrolled in each school and district.

Those who do not have proper documentation and want to enrol their children in public schools will need to provide the parent's passport details, residency permit (iqama) details, or if they are on a visit visa, details of their residence and contact number.

If parents do not have any of the above, they will be asked to get accurate data and complete documents and must submit an undertaking that they will correct their residency status in the kingdom during the academic year.

“The move highlights the country's vision and priorities — which is to ensure every child has access to education. This has been done before when it came to health care and vaccines — all illegal immigrants were given free medical care and the vaccine for Covid-19,” said Hana Bashir, a Saudi schoolteacher in Jeddah.

Ms Bashir said her school had received inquiries related to the ministry's new announcement.

“It's important to help families who want to send their children to school and this way kids won't miss out on a whole year or admissions if they are allowed to enrol now. I am looking forward to it as school reopen for pupils next month,” she said.

Updated: August 24, 2022, 4:42 PM