Over 3,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers with expired visas have returned home under a special amnesty granted by the Saudi Arabian government, a statement said here on Wednesday.
These workers were the first to return, and more are expected to come back home later, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment ( SLBFE) noted in the statement.
During the amnesty period, the overstaying Sri Lankans were asked to report to the Saudi Immigration and Emigration Department to obtain a pass to leave the country without being punished.
However, according to the bureau, there was a delay in releasing temporary visas for such a large number of people.
Sri Lankan workers returning during the amnesty period have the opportunity to go back for employment in Saudi Arabia. but they can only do so after renewing or adjusting their visas.
Overstaying visa or not having the correcting working visa can result in heavy fines, deportation or even prison.
The Saudi government extended the amnesty period from July 3 to November 4 due to the large number of applicants.
An estimated 1.3 million Sri Lankans work in the Middle East and remittances are the island's largest source of foreign exchange.