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American Woman Stuck Illegally in Saudi Arabia Granted Residency

American Woman Stuck Illegally in Saudi Arabia Granted Residency

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An American woman has been granted legal residency in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after The New York Times wrote about her ordeal a week ago.

Bethany Vierra was stuck illegally in Saudi Arabia with her young daughter after her Saudi husband divorced her. Bethany moved the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2011, starting a business and married a Saudi businessman. They have a daughter, Zaina. 

Following the divorce, her husband refused to renew her residency, meaning she was living in the kingdom illegally. Bethany was also blocked from travelling through airports and accessing her bank accounts. 

Bethany, 31, said on Sunday in a statement that Saudi officials had intervened in her case and “within hours, my residency issue was solved.”

She has been granted residency as the mother of a Saudi citizen, a relatively new status that she had not been able to obtain following her divorce because her husband refused to provide the required paperwork.

Bethany can now use her bank account and travel as she pleases. But her new status does not apply to her four year old daughter whose legal guardian under Saudi law remains her father. Zaina cannot leave the country without his permission. Whether  or not Zaina will be allowed to trade out of the country with her mother without the father’s permission remains to be seen. 

This recent case shows the strict nature of Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws and the many ways in which Saudi men have power over women regardless of the progressive moves being undertaken by the government.

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