An estimated 700-800 Vietnamese people working illegally in Saudi Arabia may benefit from a general amnesty issued by the country's government, the Department of Overseas Labour said.

Under the amnesty, people who are now staying illegally in Saudi Arabia would be acknowledged as legal workers if they changed to legal employment, said the department, under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The workers simply needed to go to the country's labour office and Immigration Department and go through procedures to switch to legal employers. They would not be charged fees for the services or need the permission of their previous employers.

In cases where workers wanted to return to their home country, they could also go to the Immigration Department to ask for a free final exit visa.

The amnesty expires on July 3. After that the Saudi government will crack down on illegal workers. Those caught staying illegally after the expiry will be liable to get two years' imprisonment and a fine.

Following the announcement, the Department of Overseas Labour sent an official letter to labour export companies in Vietnam , requesting they scan for workers who had left their jobs and were staying illegally in Saudi Arabia .

The companies were asked to inform the workers' families of the amnesty to advise workers to contact the Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia in Al-Nuzha District, Riyadh for further guidance on the procedures required.

The department said Vietnamese illegal workers who had lost their passport should contact the Vietnamese Embassy to ask for a new one.-VNA