September 29, 2005

Saudi Arabia has eased business visa regulations as part of its efforts to attract foreign investment.

The new law allows owners, board chairmen and directors general of foreign companies, as well as investors, to get visas without an invitation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed its missions abroad that they must issue all visas, especially trade visas, within 24 hours. The new instructions abrogate all previous rules related to issuing visas to businessmen and investors.

According to the new instructions, entry visas will be given for business purposes to representatives of foreign companies on the basis of applications presented by the federations of chambers in their respective countries. Company representatives carrying an invitation from a Saudi chamber but which have no business relations with a Saudi firm are also entitled to receive entry visas.

The new rules allow businesswomen and women investors to get entry visas on condition they have a close relative accompanying them or working in the Kingdom or come as part of a business delegation.

Women investors and businesswomen coming without a close relative will be given visas by the ministry or its branches if they have an invitation from a Saudi company.

Business and visit visas would be given for one month or a maximum of three months. The Ministry can issue six-month multiple visas for foreign executives who require more than one visit.