This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Saudi Arabia. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.
Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:
- Attending business meetings or discussions;
- Receiving and providing training;
- Visiting facilities and plants;
- Assemble and maintain equipment imported into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
- Attending seminars or conferences.
Type of Business Visas – Certain nationals may enter Saudi Arabia without need of a business visa (visa-exempt nationals – GCC Nationals). All other nationals will require a business visa.
1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not for paid employment;
2. Valid passport;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Saudi Arabia;
4. A ticket for onward travel from Saudi Arabia;
5. Business letters and supporting documents.
Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.
Maximum Time On Visa – This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to Saudi Arabia for 30, 90, or 180 days. Visas cannot be extended in country.
Typical Documents Required – All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:
- a valid passport or other acceptable travel document and in some cases;
- a valid visa or authority to enter Saudi Arabia.
Basic Requirements – The principle visa category for temporary employment in Saudi Arabia is the work visa. This is a category for employers to sponsor qualified skilled workers to work in Saudi Arabia on a temporary long term basis.
Process Overview – The process for obtaining work and residence authorization involves a three-step process summarized below:
1. Block visa – block visas are a pre-approval process, issued for several positions and must state nationality, job title and country of residence for each potential expatriate employee;
2. Work visa – the work visa is applied for at the Saudi Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of origin, as specified on the block visa pre-approval. A legalized, translated medical report , degree or diploma (coinciding with the job title on the Block visa) along with police clearance certificates (depending on the nationality and the country of application) will be required.
3. Residence permit (iqama) and work permit application – submitted post arrival.
Please note that a second medical check may be required (arranged post arrival and concomitantly with the iqama and work permit application).
Estimated Processing Time – Block Visa up to 90 days, Work Visa up to 30 days, Residence and Work Permit up to 90 days
Validity periods – Visas are generally valid for up to two years.
Family Members – Dependents cannot work without separate work authorization.