SCORES of expatriate workers living in the Kingdom enjoy a permanent visa status for their family. However, this does not help those who have more than one wife.
“I have two wives, but I couldn’t get a residence visa for both. As a result, I could bring only one of my wives and her children here,” said Aslam Rahil, a Pakistani engineer who has lived in Jeddah for 7 years.
Rahil married his second wife two years back. He has three daughters from his first wife. “I want to bring my second wife here from Pakistan and wish to have children with her,” he said, adding that his second wife is insecure as she has not been able to produce a son so far.
Many expatriates are unable to deal equally with their wives who live in their home country as they stay here with only one wife and her children brought here on a permanent visa status. “I went to Pakistan only once to meet with my second wife after marriage,” said Rahil.
In Saudi Arabia, polygamy is an accepted practice. Under Islamic law, a Muslim man may take as many as four wives, provided that he can support and treat them all equally.
Dr. Ali Hasnain, an Egyptian therapist, has three wives. He brings his wives one at a time on visas to the Kingdom. “When I failed to get permanent visas for all my wives, I decided not to bring any one of them permanently. Instead, I invite them on visitor’s visas one at a time and so none of them complain of unequal treatment,” he said.
Basha Nawaz Khan, an international legal expert, said that the Kingdom does not permit the entry of more than one wife and the children of other wives on a permanent visa. They, however, can enter on a visitor’s visa.
“The latest regulations of the local passport authorities (Jawazat) do not permit an expatriate to bring more than one wife or the children of other wives here,” said Khan.
He said that if the profession mentioned on one’s Iqama is that of a laborer, driver, agricultural laborer, tailor, etc., he is not eligible to apply for a residential visa or a visitor’s visa.
Relevant applicants should have a minimum salary of SR3500 (and above). Iqama holders with professions like that of doctors, engineers, IT engineers, legal advisers, chief mechanics, accountants, investors, sales managers, and marketing managers can apply for a permanent family visa, for only one family.
The applicant’s salary certificate issued by the sponsor and attested educational certificates are required when he is applying for a visitor’s visa or a family visa. Polygamy is widespread among Muslims in South Asia sanctioned under the Islamic law of Shariah, with polygamous marriages constituting one to three percent of all marriages.
A Pakistani investor, requesting anonymity, who wanted to bring his second wife on an investor’s visa, said he obtained a family visa for his second wife only after a long uphill struggle. “I succeeded to bring both my wives to the Kingdom, but this is not possible now as per the local authorities,” he said.
According to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) rules, investment license holders and owners of a company/ establishment/ industry/ factory in Saudi Arabia can bring their first wife within a couple of weeks of obtaining a business license.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a relatively easy online procedure of obtaining a visitor’s visa.
“The visitor’s visa can be extended two to three times as per the requirement, with the payment of SR100 as the fee. In the case of the wife’s pregnancy, the visitor’s visa can be extended until her delivery, on the basis of a relevant medical certificate,” said advocate Khan.
Muhammad Abdullah (name changed), an Indian sales manager, obtained a temporary visitor’s visa for his second wife from Nepal, although he originally wished to get a permanent family visa for her.
“I married a Nepali Muslim woman after I converted to Islam from Hinduism. Since I already have my Indian wife’s picture on my Iqama, I was not eligible for obtaining a permanent family visa for my second wife who is also a Muslim convert,” he said.
Abdullah’s first wife plans to sue him in India for marrying a second time.
Under the Hindu Marriage Act of India, polygamy is illegal for Hindus. The law excludes Muslim Indians. As compared to India, polygamy is more common among the Hindus in Nepal because of which most Nepali women are accustomed to being a second wife.
Abdullah said his first wife refused to divorce him and to return to India permanently. “Since we have two kids, I cannot ignore my first wife.
But I can bring my Nepali wife on a permanent visa only after I send my first family back,” he said. – SG
Credit for the above info: Saudi Gazette Internet Edition, by Sameera Aziz