Copyright : David Carillet
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, located in the Middle East, has the largest economy in the region. This is where the second largest religion in the world, Islam, was born in the 7th century.
The economy of Saudi Arabia is largely dependent on petroleum, which was discovered on March 3, 1938. The country is the largest producer and exporter of oil in the world.
Several nationalities work in Saudi Arabia, an Islamic kingdom that is economically progressive but still follows cultural traditions. The kingdom is very strict when it comes to foreign nationals coming into the country. It admits foreign nationals into the country for business and employment. Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to tourists and other travel visas outside of this list:
- Commercial and Saudi Arabia business visa
- Official and diplomatic visa
- Employment visa
- Escort visa, issued to the principal’s traveller’s spouse and children
- Government visit visa
- Saudi Arabia work visa
- Family visit visa
- Student visa
- Residence visa
- Umrah visa
- Hajj visa
Getting a Saudi visa
The process of applying for and getting a Saudi visa is quite complex. Several requirements have to be met and several documents have to be obtained and submitted. Most complications in Saudi visa applications are due to the incorrect completion of the form because the required official invitation is written in Arabic. Additional complications can be due to the application form itself and the wording of the UK business letter pertaining to the journey’s specific purpose, the address of the organisation that sent the invitation and the applicant’s profession.
Unless you speak Arabic, it would definitely be difficult to fill out the application form and understand what the requirements are when you have documents in English and Arabic. Aside from making you confused, this can delay the processing of your visa application to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi visa application process
In order to ensure that you have all the documentation you need to apply for a Saudi visa, and have ample time to prepare, it is best to undergo the Saudi visa application process at least three months before your intended departure.
All people travelling to Saudi Arabia should secure a visa, with the following exemptions:
- Citizens of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, which are all neighbouring countries of Saudi Arabia.
- Transit passengers or those using connecting flights within 18 hours of landing on Saudi Arabia’s airport, as long as they have a valid documentation for their onward or return flights do not need a Saudi visa. However, they are forbidden from leaving the airport and will not have additional landings in the country, except the citizens of Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso because they always need a transit visa when they travel to other destinations.
- People holding “Landing Permits” and re-entry permits from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also exempted.
Saudi Arabia is very strict about issuing visas. The purpose of the travel has to be legitimate. Technically, it only grants tourist visas to a select group and all people travelling to Saudi Arabia should have official sponsorship.
Aside from the usual personal documents, applying for a Saudi visa for business requires the applicant to have a letter of sponsorship from the business or organization acknowledged by the country. The sponsorship is typically an invitation letter that is certified by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country’s Chamber of Commerce.
Just like the requirements in most countries, your passport should be valid for at least six months. There are also specific requirements as to the photos you should include with you visa application.
Supporting documents to accompany your visa application include a Business Cover Letter from your company based in the UK. The letter must be printed on the official letterhead of the company that clearly shows its UK mailing address and other contact information.
The visa application form should be filled out completely. It should show your name as written on your passport. It should bear your signature and must include your email address and your mobile number.
Travel agencies can help you secure the Letter of Invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia using the Business Invitation Request Form included in the visa application kit.
However, if your sponsor in Saudi Arabia is the one getting the invitation for you, see to it that it is addressed to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London. Likewise, you must ensure that the invitation is signed and stamped by your sponsoring company or the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia.
Another document you have to secure is the certificate of business registration of the company that is sponsoring you or inviting you to Saudi Arabia. This document should have an approval stamp from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia.
One other thing a Saudi visa applicant must do is an Enjaz registration. It is a required online registration that should be done as you complete your application form. Enjaz is connected to the Saudi Arabian embassy or consulate in your area. The travel agent does the Enjaz registration for you, but you should date and sign the Enjaz Registration Release Form included in the Saudi visa application kit. In the Enjaz registration, it states that the applicant should provide fingerprint submission and iris scan, which you must do when you enter Saudi Arabia.
Now that you know the requirements, how can you ensure that you are providing the right information in your application when you cannot understand some of the questions and the contents of the essential documents that are not written in English?
Seeking professional help
Since you will have documents that may be written in Arabic and you can only speak English, it is important for you to understand what the documents say, so that you can provide the correct answers to the questions in the application form. What you should do is to work with a professional translator who can translate the documents written in Arabic into English, such as the official letter of invitation from the sponsoring company, the business registration of organization inviting you and other documents from Saudi Arabia.
The English translation will help you draft the business letter from your own company. Check with your travel agent if the business letter should be in Arabic or English, so you’ll know if translation is needed.
Work only with a professional translator to ensure that the translation from English into Arabic and vice-versa is 100% accurate. Having professional assistance ensures that your Saudi visa application process is seamless and cost-efficient.
President and CEO of Day Translations, Inc., Sean Patrick Hopwood sees to it that clients are satisfied with every type of language services his company provides. He makes sure that each translation is 100% accurate, especially official documents that require certified translations. Outside of his hectic workweek, Sean enjoys writing blogs, sports and dancing to unwind and keep fit.