Saudi Arabia Employment Visas Types
In order to employ foreign employees, it is essential to fully understand the different Saudi Arabia Employment Visas types. Saudi Arabian corporations have to abide by the Saudization levels before an employment visa (Iqama) can be given. In addition, non-Saudi employees need to have an Iqama to be granted as an authorized signatory to a Saudi Arabia corporate bank account.
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Saudization (also known as Nitaqat)
- Generally, 10% of the workforce must consist of Saudi Nationals
- Factors affecting the amount of Saudi Arabian Nationals to be employed (Saudization level):
- Local economy performance
- Total number of staff
- Size of the company
- The type of business
- Companies with more than 6 employees are categorized into different color groups, depending on the current percentages of Saudi employees.
- From the worst to the best, the groups go from Red, Low Green, Medium Green, High Green and Platinum.
- Companies in the platinum and green groupings are recognized monetarily and given help from the Ministry of Labour to develop and expand, including faster applications.
- Companies in the red grouping are not allowed to apply or renew employee visas for Non-Saudi nationals. Government penalties can be imposed.
Saudi Arabia Employee visas
- It takes about 2-4 months for the approval of visas.
- The documents needed vary depending on the nationality and place of residence of the applicant.
- Passport of the foreign employee must have at least 2 blank pages facing each other and 6 months validity.
- The company needs to have at least one local staff, abide to the 10% local to foreign ratio.
- Residency visas valid for up to 2 years. Staff are not allowed to work for other companies than their own for at least 2 years unless with an Ajeer approval.
- Before securing an Iqama or residency visa, employees must obtain a visit visa, to be obtained in the Saudi embassy of their home country. Thereafter, the visit visa can be converted to an Iqama within 2 weeks from arrival in Saudi Arabia.
- Visitor visa to be paid for by a Saudi resident company or individual, of which an acceptance letter is needed.
- An exit/re-entry visa is needed when staff leave Saudi for vacation or business purposes. For a one-way exit from Saudi Arabia, staff will only need an exit-only visa.
- For Non-Saudi nationals:
- Passport copy
- 2 passport size photos
- Medical report (updated within the last 3 months)
- Record on any law offences (updated within the last month)
- Saudi Arabia embassy approved university degree
- Applicant’s resume
- Employment contract with a Saudi company
- Acceptance letter from Saudi employer
- Several other visa application forms
Saudi Arabia Ajeer System
- To encourage employment, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development can give out Ajeer approval letter to
- Temporarily grant a company’s staff to work for another entity, without having to transfer their Iqama
- Staff’s dependents are allowed to work in educational jobs temporarily
- Providing alternative work for staff stuck in an employment disagreement
- Yemeni nationals
- Ajeer letters are granted to companies who abide with Saudization policies and fall under certain industries such as
- Operation and maintenance
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Consultancy and business services
- Ajeer approvals are legal for up to 6 months. Approvals can be renewed afterwards.