Is your organization planning an expansion into the Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia? If so, then you will probably be looking to bring along at least some employees from abroad to help with the operation. To accomplish this step of the expansion process effectively, every employee will need a Saudi Arabia work visa.
With Saudi Arabia’s strict immigration laws, different language, and unique administrative procedures, it can be difficult to get all of your employees’ work visas in place for your expansion. However, if you fail to prepare properly, you may encounter rejections and costly delays to your expansion efforts.
At Horizons, our expansion experts offer a comprehensive selection of Saudi Arabia work visa services, immigration support, and outsourcing solutions to help you hire foreign employees in Saudi Arabia compliantly and efficiently.
Standard requirements for Saudi Arabia work visas
Citizens of countries belonging to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council) can generally enter Saudi Arabia visa-free. Nationals of any other countries, however, will need a visa for Saudi Arabia.
When applying for a Saudi Arabia work permit, the exact requirements can vary on a case-by-case basis. However, there are some standard requirements that all applicants will need:
- An official contract of employment
- Valid passport
- Application form
- Application fees
- Medical check
- Proof of qualifications/work experience
- Criminal record check
Types of Saudi Arabia visas
The two main types of visas for business purposes are employment visas and business visit visas. Of these, your employees will need employment visas if they wish to stay and work in Saudi Arabia beyond the short-term.
How to get a Saudi Arabia work visa
To obtain a work visa for Saudi Arabia, you, the employer, will need to handle the majority of the application process. Firstly, you will need to register officially with the Saudi Government (the Ministry of Interior specifically). When registered, you should file a Saudi Arabia work visa application with the Ministry of Labor, which should be processed within two weeks. Once approved, the employee can file their application with their local Saudi embassy/consulate.
When the employee’s visa is approved (which can take several weeks), they can travel to Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, they will need to apply for an Iqama (residency permit) via the Ministry of Labor.
Employees should be careful to always carry their Iqama (residency permit) with them while in Saudi Arabia, as it may be checked at any time. Also, it is important to note that anybody wishing to leave and re-enter the country will need a re-entry permit, which can be accessed via the Ministry of Interior.
Finally, foreign employees will need to be aware of the cultural differences present in Saudi Arabia. As a strongly Muslim country, there are many strict laws and customs that employees should abide by. For example, conservative clothing should be worn at all times, public affection is banned, and women are generally expected to wear religious clothing such as a hijab. These rules, among others, are very strictly enforced, so should be followed.
How can Horizons help?
At Horizons, our expansion specialists help businesses expand to Saudi Arabia by ensuring they understand the immigration rules and can obtain all the necessary visas for their employees. Our experts offer advice and custom outsourcing services to support you through the country’s complex visa application process. We can ensure that you and your foreign employees are in full compliance with Saudi Arabia’s strict immigration and employment regulations, speed up the expansion process, and provide answers to any queries you might have about visas.
In addition, we offer comprehensive outsourcing solutions to cover recruitment, payroll, HR, administration, and more to help your company start trading and expanding in Saudi Arabia, even if you don’t have an official subsidiary in the country.