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Corporate Immigration in Saudi Arabia
For companies expanding into Saudi Arabia, many view corporate immigration as a complex process. Often companies donít have the local knowledge to plan timelines and budgets or have communication barriers.
As foreign investment to the Kingdom increases, the Saudi government has looked to making the process more streamlined with the introduction of online portals and business reforms.
This article is an overview on corporate immigration and some of the most commonly asked questions.
What is the Saudi governmentís policy towards corporate immigration?
The government has encouraged foreign investment in the Kingdom aligned with Vision 2030. Numerous reforms have been implemented to create an attractive environment for foreign investors that is mutually beneficial to both businesses and the economy.
The Saudi government continues to develop market environment to make it more attractive through the introduction of reforms such as the bankruptcy laws and the privatization plan.
The government continues to work to increase foreign investors in the Kingdom and improve their experience. There have been a number of online portals introduced to speed up processes that were previously manual, for example, an investment license that is now available in as little as 4 hours would have previously taken weeks to process and required multiple visits to different government departments.
What are the main work and business permits used to transfer employees?
The option available for those working long term in the Kingdom is the work permit and Iqama, both are needed for different reasons. The work permit allows you to legally work in the Kingdom and the Iqama is allows you to rent a house, open a bank account, put your children in education and other personal actions.
Employees enter the Kingdom under a work entry permit and will be granted a final work permit and Iqama once they have completed the in-country requirements. The work entry has a duration of stay of 90 days and users are unable to leave the country or work until they have obtained their final work permit and Iqama.
How long does it take to process the visas?
Processing times for visas vary, depending on the industry of work permit, the country of application, the nationality of the applicant and if there are dependents.
If your company is applying from a block visa, this can take two to six weeks before it is processed depending on the size of the request, the type of visa and the Saudization rating of the company.
Once the individual has entered the country under a work visa, it may take one to two to three weeks to obtain a work permit and Iqama assuming all relevant documentation is current and has gone through the required procedures such as notarisation or attestation. However, if your profession requires extra accreditation, such as engineers or accountants, then it may take an additional two to three weeks.