How to Apply for a Work Permit in Saudi Arabia

 How to Apply for a Work Permit in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government’s has made attempts to diversify the country’s economy beyond oil and has also increased employment opportunities for Saudi nationals. As part of this drive, the government has increased the cost of living for foreign workers by introducing an annual fee for their dependants. It has also set restrictions on the professions expats can work in. To work in Saudi Arabia, you will ultimately need a residence permit, which allows you to work for a specific amount of time (up to two years). Anyone moving to Saudi Arabia for work needs to have a Saudi employer who can act as their sponsor. Furthermore, the company must have visa approval from the Saudi Ministry of Labor to employ foreign nationals.

The first step of getting a residence permit is to obtain a work visa. Your employer must apply for this visa on your behalf; after approval, you can enter the country and start working. Within 90 days of your arrival, your employer must apply for a residence permit. The residence permit acts as the standard form of identification in Saudi Arabia, so you won’t be able to undertake tasks such as opening a bank account without one. The PR/Work visa is limited to a duration of one or two years (depending on the length of your work contract), after which it will need to be renewed by your employer.

If you are moving to Saudi Arabia to work for the medium or long term, you will need to get a PR/Work Visa. For short-term visitors, there are some other options, as follows.

1. Business visit visa

This visa allows you to conduct business transactions with a Saudi company. This is useful for people offering short-term services and limits the type of work you can conduct things such as holding meetings. To get a business visit visa you will first need a letter of invitation from a Saudi sponsor.

2. Family visas

It is possible to register family members on your PR, however, rules introduced by the government in 2017 have made this considerably more expensive. Foreign workers with dependent family members now need to pay a monthly levy for each family member. Family members must obtain permission from the authorities before working in Saudi Arabia.

3. Premium Residency PR

The premium residency PR, also known as the Saudi Arabia green card, offers expats permanent residency in the state without the need for a sponsor.

How to Apply for a work permit in Saudi Arabia

Your employer should deal with the work permit application process on your behalf. However, you will need to supply a range of documents, including the following:

  • Your passport
  • Two passport-sized photographs of yourself
  • Two passport-sized photographs of your employer
  • A letter from your employer/visa sponsor, which has been certified by the Chamber of Commerce as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • A signed employment contract
  • Certificates of academic and professional qualifications
  • An up-to-date police report detailing any convictions
  • A medical report from a licensed physician

Before you can be issued a permit you will need to have your fingerprints taken and undergo a medical examination. This is required to ensure you don’t have any contagious illnesses such as HIV.

How to renew work permits in Saudi Arabia

The responsibility for renewing your work permits falls on your employer. It is best for the company to start this process ahead of time, as fines will be levied if you fail to renew it before your current permit expires. The majority of the renewal process can be undertaken by your company online, although you will need to sit the medical examination again before your permit is issued.

Importantly, your work permit is locked to the company which acts as your sponsor. Therefore, if you want to transfer between two Saudi employers, you will need to obtain a no-objection certificate from the employer you are planning to leave.


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