Hajj and Umrah pilgrims in countries such as the UAE should consider completing the compulsory biometrics registration locally before applying for a visa, as recommended in a new circular issued by Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. This process can be completed at biometric enrollment centres and will help save time and long queues at the airport, once the pilgrims arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport or at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The main benefits of completing the biometrics process, in countries of residence, are as follows:
1. It is the correct procedure
It is compulsory for pilgrims to provide their biometric information on entry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They risk deportation if the required visa process is not followed. If pilgrims complete the entire process in their home countries, they will be able to embark on their spiritual journey with a peaceful mind.
2. It saves time
Pilgrims can take an appointment at a local visa centre and it will take only about ten minutes to register their biometrics. On the other hand, it will take them much longer to do this at the airport. With the biometric registration done in the country of origin, travellers will only need to clear immigrations and customs in Saudi Arabia.
3. It is safe and efficient
Biometrics can only be registered at visa service centres which have been authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KSA. A digital camera is used to capture a facial image while a digital finger scanner is used to get a 10-digit fingerprint scan.
The KSA has recently rejected entry of several hundred visitors due to lack of compliance with visa procedures. The authorities are requesting pilgrims to apply for the right visa category via travel agents who registered with KSA’s Hajj and Umrah Committees in order to avoid such a situation. Pilgrims cannot use the new tourist e-visa to enter Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj or Umrah. This e-visa is only for tourists who want to attend concerts and sports events happening in the country. Pilgrims who enter without the correct visa and documents will have to pay fines and will be deported to their country of origin.