Syria’s Interior Ministry has made a decision to issue Syrian expatriates six-year passports which had previously been limited to two years, indicating the move will exclude expatriates who have legal action against them such as those who are pursued judicially or who have not performed their required service.
Decree 687 stipulates that those who want to obtain a passport will pay 400 US dollars for a period of six years and another 200 dollars to renew it, according to the legislative ordnance issued last year.
According to sources, the decree came to ease the affairs of Syrian expatriates abroad following a number of harassment cases in some of the Gulf countries.
Two months ago, the Kuwaiti authorities detained more than 50 Syrian expatriates who were heading to visit the United Arab Emirates on the pretext that their passports were forged despite assurances from the Syrian consulate that their travel documents were valid. The Kuwaiti government insisted on expelling 13 Syrians on that charge. The sources said that new passports had been issued to the group, although their previous passports were valid, in an indication of the possibility they may return to Kuwait.
The sources said that many countries were setting the length of residence permits for expatriates according to the expiry date of their passports. This decree subsequently came to ease the legal steps for expatriates while lightening the financial burdens, whether in renewing their residency or their passports, as expatriates previously paid a 200 dollar renewal fee every two years. Expatriates will now pay 400 dollars for a six-year passport, and 200 dollars to renew it for the same period.
The sources noted that the state was eager to ease all steps for expatriates given that they are Syrian citizens, indicating that many people from Syrian communities abroad had requested an increase in the validity period of the passports because of issues in some countries, including the Gulf and some European countries.
Meanwhile, figures from the Department of Immigration showed the number of passports issued and renewed for expatriates reached more than 50,000 during 2016, including 29,000 passports issued for the first time and 9,000 renewed, with 12,000 passports extended for four years. The numbers indicate that the number of passports issued and renewed in the country reached more than 330,000, including more than 300,000 passports issued for the first time and 30,000 renewed.
Immigration revenue reached more than 512 million dollars in 2015 as the department issued about a million passports in addition to issuing 10,000 residency permits to foreigners living in Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.