Working Visa Information in Saudi Arabia 2023: This article covers all you need to know about obtaining a work permit in Saudi Arabia if you plan to move there to work. Historically, more than 10 million foreign laborers resided in the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, this number is currently decreasing at an alarming rate. According to data, 1.1 million expats left between 2017 and the third quarter of 2019. This book, however, contains the following information for people contemplating a relocation to the Kingdom:
- Other types of Saudi Arabian work visas
- Application for a Work Permit in Saudi Arabia
- Work permission fees in Saudi Arabia
- Changing or renewing Saudi Arabian work permits
- Working in Saudi Arabia without a visa
- Useful resources
Working in Saudi Arabia
The previously noted exodus of expatriates coincides with the Saudi government’s efforts to diversify the economy beyond oil and improve employment prospects for Saudi natives.
As part of this initiative, the government has increased the cost of living for foreign employees by instituting an annual tax for their dependents. It has also restricted the professions in which expats may engage.
Work Permits in Saudi Arabia
To work in Saudi Arabia, you will inevitably require a residence permit (Iqama) that permits you to work for a certain period of time (up to two years).
To work in Saudi Arabia, one must have a Saudi employer who can act as their sponsor. To employ foreign citizens, the employer must also obtain visa permission from the Saudi Ministry of Labor.
Obtaining a work visa is the first step in acquiring an Iqama. This visa must be applied for on your behalf by your employer; upon approval, you may enter the country and begin working.
Your employer must apply for a residence permit, which includes a work permit, within 90 days of your arrival. In Saudi Arabia, the residence permit is the usual form of identification, so you will be unable to perform actions such as opening a bank account without one.
You should always carry your Iqama with you. You may be penalised if you fail to provide your card when requested. The Iqama is valid for one or two years (depending on the length of your employment contract), after which your employer will need to renew it.
What Does a Work Permit in Saudi Arabia Look Like?
Your Iqama card will contain the following information:
Name, nationality, date of birth, employer and work title, Iqama number, and issue and expiration dates
Other Types of Work Permits in Saudi Arabia
You must obtain an Iqama if you are moving to Saudi Arabia to work on a medium- or long-term basis. For short-term visits, the following alternatives are available:
Business Visit Visa
This visa enables you to conduct business with a Saudi corporation. This is useful for those who provide temporary services and restricts the type of activity you can perform, such as hosting meetings.
To obtain a business travel visa, you must first obtain an invitation letter from a Saudi sponsor. US residents must pay $54 (for a single entry) or $134 (for multiple entries), while UK citizens must pay £49 or £106. The maximum processing time is seven business days.
Work Visit Visa
Theoretically, this visa permits international workers to temporarily work in Saudi Arabia for a period of 30 to 90 days.
The Saudi government stopped work permits in October 2019. In the following months, it is anticipated that the government will establish a new temporary work visa (December 2019).
Expats who wish to perform full business activities (beyond those permitted by a business visa) must get a residence permit in the interim.
It is feasible to register family members on your Iqama, but rules enacted by the government in 2017 have significantly increased the cost.
Foreign workers with dependent family members must now pay a monthly tax for each member of their household. The levy is currently SAR 300 per dependent as of July 2019, but will increase to SAR 400 per dependent in 2020.
Family members must obtain permission from the authorities before working in Saudi Arabia.
Premium Residency Iqama
The exclusive residency Iqama, often known as the “green card” in Saudi Arabia, grants permanent residency to foreigners without the need for a sponsor.
The programme provides permanent residency for SAR 800,000 or a year-round renewable residency for SAR 100,000.
The premium system debuted in June 2019, and Saudi media agencies indicate that ex-pats of 27 different nationalities applied by mid-October.
Applying For a Work Permit in Saudi Arabia
Your employer should deal with the Iqama application process on your behalf. However, you will need to produce a range of papers, including the following:
- your passport
- two images of yourself in passport size, and two photographs of your employer in passport size.
- a letter from your employer or visa sponsor, certified by the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- a signed employment contract; certificates of academic and professional qualifications
- a current police report listing all convictions
- a medical report from a qualified doctor.
Before a permit may be obtained, you must have your fingerprints taken and submit to a medical check. This is necessary to guarantee that you do not have infectious diseases such as HIV. You can review the status of your Iqama on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.
Costs of Work Permits in Saudi Arabia
The cost of your residence permit should be covered by your company. The overall cost is contingent on the percentage of Saudi nationals employed by your company.
If more than 50% of employees are Saudi nationals, the overall charge will be SAR 7,200. This includes 750 SAR for the Iqama, 6,000 SAR for the work visa, and 450 SAR for insurance.
If the company employs more than fifty percent expatriates, the charge increases to SAR 8,400, and the work permit fee climbs to SAR 7,500. The government often conducts periodic reviews of these fees.
Changing or Renewing Work Permits in Saudi Arabia
The renewal of your Iqama is the responsibility of your employer. If you fail to renew it before your current permit expires, penalties will be imposed.
Your organisation can complete the majority of the renewal process online, but you must retake the medical examination before your permission is issued.
Importantly, your Iqama is tied to the organisation that serves as your sponsor. If you wish to transfer between two Saudi employers, you must obtain a certificate of no objection from the employer you intend to leave.
Working Without a Visa in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, the penalty for working illegally can be harsh. Individuals without a valid work visa are subject to a fine of up to SAR 10,000 and are likely to be arrested and deported.
If your employer fails to file for a work visa, they are subject to a fine of up to SAR 100,000 and the revocation of their business license.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum age requirement for a Saudi Arabian work visa in 2023?
What are the prerequisites for a Saudi Arabian work visa?
original passport valid for a minimum of six (6) months and including at least two (2) consecutive blank visa pages.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives a digital power of attorney from the Saudi employer.