- Country Name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Capital: Riyadh
- Population: 30,770,3745 (2014 estimate)
- Language: Arabic
- Time Zone: AST (UTC+3)
- Dialing Code: +966
- Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
This FAQ has been created as an introductory guide to immigration procedures for Saudi Arabia. Since rules and requirements in every country are constantly changing and each case must be assessed on its own merits, for in-depth and up-to-date advice, please contact us.
Please note, we can only advise on matters relating to immigration and are unable support you with employment in a new region. We do however have a network of trusted partners that can support your move, so please visit Our Partners page for further information.
There is a thriving job market for expats in Saudi Arabia that reaches beyond the more obvious employment sectors, such as oil and gas. Areas such as logistics, retail and consumer goods all offer attractive prospects for expats.
Additionally, engineering, construction, IT and telecommunications are also strong areas of employment, and English teachers, doctors and nurses are always in demand.
The main category for long term temporary employment in Saudi Arabia is the Block work visa. This is for employers wishing to sponsor skilled workers as intra-company transferees on a temporary basis.
For short term assignments a Work Visit Visa (Short Term) can be applied for.
Processes and requirements will vary slightly according to the nationality of the applicant, the country of application and personal circumstances of the assignee and any family dependants. We therefore recommend that you contact us for up-to-date information.
However, the general process involves:
The employer applies for a “Block Allocation.” (an approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is in essence a document authorising a group of individuals to apply for an entry visa to commence work).
An individual Work Entry Visa application and then work permit application must then be submitted for each employee at the Saudi diplomatic post in their place of residence as specified on the initial “Block Allocation.”
If this is all processed successfully, an application for a Residence Permit, (Iqama), must be submitted post-arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Requirements will vary according to country of application, and nationality of the applicant and any dependants.
Applicants will be required to submit a variety of personal documents to support the application which include, but are not limited to: passport, employment contract, medical, police clearance, degree certificate, marriage and birth certificates for any family dependants; as well as a variety of corporate documents which may include: Block Visa Approval, Commercial Registration, Chamber of Commerce Certificate, tax document, Income Certificate, Social Insurance Certificate, Municipality Office Licence, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority certificate, support letters, lease agreement for office premises, Kroki, Employee Ratio Statistics, No Objection Certificate (NOC) and employment contract.
Processing times will vary according to type of work permit, country of application, and nationality of the applicant and any dependants. However, an indication of processing times is as follows: 3 to 7 months until entry to Saudi Arabia, and a further 1 to 3 months before the whole process is completed.
The duration of the work Work Entry visa is for an initial period of 90 days and cannot be extended. The Work Permit and Iqama, once received is are valid for an initial period of one to two years and may be renewed indefinitely.
It is strictly prohibited to carry out any work on a business visa . and Tourist visas do not formally exist in Saudi Arabia. A work visa cannot be obtained without a confirmed job offer and sponsorship from an employer.
It is not possible to arrive in Saudi Arabia to look for work.
It is very rare for foreign citizens to be granted citizenship due to the country’s strict immigration limits. Even marrying a Saudi Arabian citizen is no guarantee of citizenship, especially if you are not Muslim.
In addition, obtaining Saudi Arabian citizenship will mean relinquishing your own nationality, as dual nationality is not permitted. The country’s recently established naturalisation law does allow expatriates to apply for citizenship, but there is a ten year trial period, during which time your behaviour will be monitored.
You will also be required to speak Arabic.
Saudi Arabia has very stringent immigration rules and regulations which must be adhered to. Restricted entry could arise in situations where regulations pertaining to particular Saudi customs have been breached, such as conventions of behaviour or dress, or passengers who have links to Israel.
In addition, female travellers must be wary of particular rules that apply to women; for example, they must be met by their sponsor at the airport or else they will face difficulties upon entry.
Of critical importance is the knowledge that all business in Saudi Arabia is conducted according to the Islamic calendar, which is eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. It is vital to ensure you do not overstay the limits of your visa as it could lead to severe consequences. It is therefore a good idea to obtain professional advice from an immigration specialist to ensure you have met all the requirements for a smooth entry into and exit out of the country.
Employers should also ensure they have a clear picture of who they wish to employ before applying for the Block Visa. Employers should contact each candidate with a job offer immediately and ask to see copies of all supporting documents. Employers should also ask for solid confirmation of which countries their prospective employees are resident in and wish to apply from, before applying for the Block Allocation.
Most importantly, employers should start the process as early as possible to avoid delays as the process is long winded, time consuming and complex.