SAUDI ARABIA: Ministry of Labor Cancels Yellow Nitaqat Band

December 12, 2019

Effective 26 January 2020, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has announced it will cancel the yellow band in its Saudization programme, Nitaqat.  Companies currently in the yellow band will be moved into the red band and will become non-compliant unless they improve their Nitaqat rating.

What is Nitaqat?

Nitaqat is a program of Saudization, aiming to increase employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector, giving companies privileges, requirements, or limitations in the visa process for their foreign workers, based on the percentage of their workforce made up of Saudi nationals.

Companies are grouped by industry sector and company size, then ranked into six categories (Premium, High Green, Medium Green, Low Green, Yellow, and Red) of Saudization – the percentage of the company’s workforce that must consist of local workers.

Companies in the red zone have the most restrictions; they are unable to hire new foreign national employees, renew work permits, or open a new business or branch in Saudi Arabia until they have improved their Nitaqat rating. Red zoned companies also forfeit their authority to give permission to their employees to change employers in Saudi.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Saudi Arabia, please email us at [email protected].