Why do you need a Saudi work Visa
If you want to work in Saudi KSA you will need to have a work visa for Saudi Arabia, the work visa will entitle you to enter the kingdom and work for 90 days during which time your sponsor (employer) will convert your visa into an Iqama or residency permit enabling you to stay and work.
How easy is it to get a Saudi Arabian Work Visa
If you can find work in Saudi Arabia then getting the Saudi Work Visa can be relatively simple as long as the company you are going to work for has not employed too many expatriate workers in relation to the number of Saudis they employ and that they are not trying to employ you for a position that has been designated for Saudis only.
Many jobs now cannot be filled by non-saudis such as positions within the HR department of a company. You may find that a company employs you for one position but when you look at the paperwork for your visa it mentions a completely different job position as the company is not able to employ you in the position they want you for. This can result in senior management in companies having visas and iqamas that say that they are electricians or even just “labor”. This may not be a problem in most cases but if your visa is as labor or a driver then you may have problems with regards being able to use banking facilities and in being able to have weekends escaping to Dubai. They say that you can change your job description, however I have never known anyone who has managed to do so.
If a company has exceeded its quota of work visas it may try to bring you into the kingdom on a Saudi business visa for a short time whilst it sorts out the problem, I had this for almost a year with a company I worked for and it caused me many problems.
Application Process for Saudi Work Visa
The initial application for your work visa is made by your sponsor in Saudi Arabia who will get you a visa number which will be sent to you to allow you to process your visa – if the company can get the visa approved and has not been blacklisted for having too many expats.
This visa number will be sent to you and you should then carefully read the website for your local Saudi Embassy as to what their requirements are. They will typically require copies of signed contracts in Arabic, legalized educational certificates and legalized medical reports covering items such as HIV and lung function.
Most countries now require you to go through an agent to get your visa, the agent will help advise you as to what paperwork you require and ensure that it is completed correctly, this process however can take a couple of weeks to complete to as long as a month.
Getting your Iqama
Your Saudi work visa will be valid for 90 days, at the end of this probation period the company employing you has to convert the visa into a residency permit or Iqama or if you fail your probation get you to leave the country. You Iqama is a small credit card type card that you have to carry with you at all times as your ID. The Iqama will allow you to make use of the banks, western union, hire cars, even something as simple as getting a Sim card. Without an Iqama it can very difficult to do anything in KSA as they will rarely accept any other type of ID.
Can you work for someone else in KSA
The rules in KSA are very clear, you can only work for your sponsor, if you are working for someone that is not your sponsor and you are caught (inspections do happen) then you can be deported after spending some time in prison. Those people that think they can buy a work visa then come to Saudi Arabia are being misled, they can only officially work for the person that has sponsored them, not anyone else. That being said there is a very healthy illegal labor market for maids, drivers, nurses and other workers throughout the kingdom, but if you are caught you will be in trouble. You also run the risk of not being paid as if your employer is not your sponsor it is against the law for them to pay you for services and some unscrupulous employers do bring in labor short term and then not pay them.
If you want to take another job while you are in KSA you can’t just quit and go work for the new company offering you more money and better conditions; you have to get a letter of no objection from your current sponsor to allow your iqama and work visa to be transferred. Not all sponsors will allow this and I have heard from many people who have been refused a letter a NO to enable them to transfer their sponsorship. These people then either have to finish their current contract with their sponsor and leave or they leave before ending their contract. In both cases however without the letter of no-objection they will have to wait one or two years before they can return to Saudi Arabia to work for another employer.
Can you return to Saudi Arabia if you leave
If you have left your employment and your sponsor has given you a letter of no objection then you can return to work in Saudi Arabia as soon as you find a new sponsor. If however you have not been issued with a letter of NO then you will have to wait for between 1 and 2 years depending on which country you come from.
If you did not leave at the end of your contract, but failed to return when using a exit/re-entry visa then you need to check the status of your old Iqama number on the MOFA website, if your sponsor has reported you as a runaway or some other case then it will show when you search your iqama number. If this is the case do not try to return unless you can get your sponsor to drop the case.
If your Iqama has not been reported in any way then you will have to wait 1 or 2 years before you can return to Saudi Arabia.
The only way around this is if you have been lucky enough not to have had your biometric data recorded (fingerprints) as you can then just “loose” your old passport with any old Saudi visa in it and reapply.
I hope this article gives you all of the information you need about your Saudi Arabia work visa, if you need any further information feel free to leave a comment below.