Numerous Indians in Saudi Arabia are likely to return to the country soon as the kingdom is set to impose the much-discussed "dependent fee" July 1 onwards. Once the tax comes into force, expats will be required to pay 100 Riyals (about Rs 1800) per month for each dependent member in the family. The residents at present pay 50 Riyals for each family member.
This is turning out to be rather expensive for numerous Indians living in Saudi Arabia on a family visa. For instance, a person living with wife and two children will have to shell out 300 riyals each month, which is approximately Rs 5,170. Meanwhile, what adds to the woe is that the entire amount for the year needs to be paid in advance while renewing the residency permit.
"Some families who I know have made plans to return to Hyderabad as they feel they cannot afford to stay there any longer," Mohd Taher, a computer professional from Hyderabad, who lives in Dammam, told the Times of India. About 10 lakh expats in Saudi Arabia are said to be from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana alone.
Talking about how many expats have already sent their families back to India, migrant rights activist Bheem Reddy Mandha said that in the past four months "the men have become forced bachelors."
If the 100 Riyals per family member per month wasn't enough, the tax is set to increase by 100 Riyals every year until 2020, which means by then the fee for each family member will be 400 riyals (Rs 6,900 approx).
Speaking about what a hurried and hassled process it has been, Mohd Yousuf Ali, who has been in the kingdom for the last 25 years, told the daily: "Hundreds of people have already sent their families away to India because of the dependent fee. They had to rush so that their children could take admissions in schools back in India."
Riyaz, who has been in Saudi Arabia for the last 10 years, explained how he will end up spending half his salary on dependent visas now on. "From July, I have to pay SR 3,600 per annum on dependent visas, apart from paying for my children's education," he told the Deccan Chronicle. "I'll be spending half my salary on dependent visas. Most workers like me will have to send their families back to India. I can't even imagine the situation of workers earning less than I do."