Filipinos seeking employment in Saudi Arabia have been told there has been a drop in job opportunities in the country.

In a statement, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said the Saudi government is stepping up its drive to nationalize its workforce and will limit its reliance on foreign workers by 2020.

With this, the Saudi government announced it would stop the renewal of residency permits for foreigners in 35 professions. The new policy will also lead to the termination of employment and deportation of foreigners aged between 35 to 54.

“The move will give opportunity for young Saudi graduates to work in the Kingdom and end the prevailing unemployment crisis,” POEA said.

The Saudi government began to curb its dependence on foreign workers two years ago by imposing taxes on dependents of expatriates staying in the country. The initial tax amount is 100 riyals, and it will increase to 300 riyals by July this year.

“Saudi Arabia also imposed in January 2018 a tax of 400 riyals per month for every expat worker from companies whose foreign workers outnumber locals. The levy increased to 600 riyals in January 2019 and will increase to 800 riyals per month by 2020,” POEA said.