Many people living in Saudi Arabia are expatriates due to the country’s long record of offering enticing incentives to overseas investors. In reality, foreigners make up 78% of Saudi Arabia’s employment. In the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, Iqamas aid in the management of these overseas recruits. Iqama, also known as a national residence permit or a Saudi work visa, is something that the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Saudi Arabia issues to individuals who want to live and work there. It takes into consideration a person’s presence in the nation, the kind of job they conduct, and the information about their employer. The overseas hires are managed via Iqama. Details about this permit, its history, and the application procedure are provided below.
What Exactly Is Iqama?
When it comes to enforcing immigration and labour laws, especially when it comes to foreign workers, the KSA government is rigorous. A non-Saudi citizen needs a local sponsor before they do their flight ticket booking and start working in the KSA. This local employer will apply for and get the worker’s Iqama residency card, which is required for both employment and continued residence in the nation. Only a defined period that corresponds to the length of the employee’s Iqama and work visa is allowed for foreign workers to be engaged. In the private industry, the work permit’s validity is presently set at one year, after which it must be renewed.
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Who Is Eligible for an Iqama?
Foreign citizens can only be hired in Saudi Arabia by employers that have a legitimate Block Visa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD). This visa must be renewed after a maximum of one year. Next, all of the paperwork must be presented within 90 days after arrival and in the correct sequence. The candidate must be at least 21 years old, in good health, free of contagious illnesses, in possession of a valid passport, and not be wanted for any crimes. Candidates with academic and professional backgrounds are valued by the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabian Iqama Application Process
- Step 1 – Obtaining a Block Visa
The application procedure for a Saudi Arabian iqama is often drawn out and difficult. Prior to applying for and receiving permission for a Block Visa, the sponsoring organization must do so via the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The Ministry sets these quotas to enable local firms to sponsor foreign workers for the purpose of long-term employment. They are given depending on a variety of criteria, such as:
- Country of origin of the applicant
- Country of birth of the applicant
- The specific function of the position
- Step 2 – Power of Attorney and Visa Clearance
Once the application has been approved, the sponsoring company must ask the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a visa authorization number and a power of attorney, which will allow the company to apply for a work visa on behalf of the employees.
- Step 3 – Applying for a Work Visa
The employer then makes a request for a work visa. When submitting an application, the employee is required to have a medical checkup and give a medical certificate.
- Step 4 – Arrive in Saudi Arabia and begin employment
After receiving approval for a work visa, the employee can travel to Saudi Arabia and start working for the employer.
- Step 5 – Applications for an Iqama and a Work Permit
Within 90 days of the worker’s entrance, an application for a work visa and an iqama must be made to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The employee must also get departure and re-entry permission from the Ministry if they need to depart from the nation at any point while they have their iqama.
How long do the work visas and iqama valid?
According to Saudi Arabian legislation, international employees can only work there for a certain period of time dependent on their iqama and work permits. Employees in the private sector are only permitted to hold work visas that are valid for a year, although the period can be renewed.
Saudi Arabia Iqama registration fees
All costs associated with acquiring the iqama and work permit are the responsibility of the local employer. In addition, if the sponsored person leaves the firm, the employer could be obligated to cover the cost of the repatriation airfare. Foreign residents in Saudi Arabia are subject to an ex-pat tax, but the legislation does not define who is responsible for paying it, either the employee or the employer, depending on the conditions of each specific contract. The ex-pat levy will be SAR 800 per worker and SAR 400 per dependant per month as of July 1, 2020. This charge could be influenced by the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy, which aims to diversify the economy of the nation, aid smaller enterprises, and provide job opportunities for residents.
Saudi Vision 2030 is a strategy to lessen Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil, diversify the country’s economy, expand government service sectors, and aid small and medium-sized businesses. Accordingly, the monarchy has stepped up efforts to improve job prospects for Saudi citizens and raise the proportion of Saudi women in the economy.
Iqama for Family Members
Iqamas holders who are employed may sponsor their family members’ Iqamas applications. Family members who are dependent on them will have their names, dates of birth, nationalities, and other pertinent information included in their Iqamas, but no work information. The Saudi Embassy in their place of residency must first grant them with a resident visa. The required paperwork for this application is mostly the same, except it adds calls for a printed copy of the marriage certification, proof of immunizations, the employee’s Iqama, and payment of the required residence permit price. Fathers are not permitted to sponsor male children who are older than 18. In KSA, dependents are not allowed to work without the necessary authorization.
How long does it take to renew an Iqama?
Iqama renewal may be completed in a day if the employer correctly complies with all application conditions. The Ministry will not hassle them with any delays. You will get a notice on your registered cellphone number with Absher mobile application once the Iqama has been renewed.