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Mohammed Al-Hussein, spokesman of the Passport Department said that the Saudis are made aware that hiring overstayers as household maids is against the law and that there are new plans to seize and deport them.

He said that the department has been on search for overstayers at homes and agencies that are responsible for their employment, stay and moving them between cities. The maids are not permitted to work without a legal status and a Saudi guardian. The ones who break the law will be targeted and sent back to their country.

Al-Hussein added that they are in charge of issuing legal ids, residency permits and documents for foreigners coming to the kingdom. They are also responsible for receiving reports on missing people – runaway workers, overstayers and illegal workers including drivers and housemaids.

The main reason for the families to opt for illegal housemaids is the rising cost of recruiting help, especially when they stand the risk of employing a maid that might leave them.

Nayla Abdulrazak, a housewife said that the recruitment offices charge fee ranging from SR10,000 – SR 15,000 to hire a maid from her home country with a legal visa, apart from expenses including health insurance, tickets and lodging. After the household training these maids go missing she added.

Abdulrazak says that it is much easier and cheaper to hire a runaway maid or an overstayer because they just have to take care of the basic salary!

According to the department and regulations, policemen are not allowed to get involved in the search of runaway maids. Issue arises when these maids commit a crime – a theft or any criminal act. Police interferes only when the employer accuses his maid. The police then liaise with the Passport Department and searches for the suspect.