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Saudi Visa UK

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

Issued by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Iqama is a national residency permit or an Saudi work visa, meant for expats living and working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It accounts for a person’s presence in the country, the type of work they do and the employer’s details.

What is an Iqama and Why is it Necessary?

Iqama allows expatriates to work and reside within the Kingdom’s borders. To get this visa, expats need to have a sponsor; usually the employer, who files the application on the behalf of the employee. An employee already issued with the card can act as a sponsor for his family members to get the card. Consider this as an essential identity document that a person needs to carry around always, as proof that they are permitted to work and reside in Saudi Arabia. Iqama is also essential for daily functions, such as opening a bank account, registering for utilities, getting mobile services and renting a home in the country.

In 2019, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of the “Privileged Iqama.” This scheme allows highly skilled expats to work in the Kingdom, without a sponsor and to also own property and invest in Saudi Arabia. However, it doesn’t provide Saudi citizenship.

What Does the Iqama Include?

An expat needs to carry the physical Iqama card always as identity proof. he card contains information like:

  • Legal Name
  • Nationality
  • Date of Birth
  • Iqama Number
  • Job Title
  • Employer Name
  • Validity Period
  • Issuance Date
  • Expiry Date

A person caught without this card could be fined SAR 1,000 onwards, with a jail term of 6 months, in case of failure to show any proof within the stipulated period. Failure to report loss or theft of the card within 24 hours can also incur fines of up to SAR 3,000. For grave misconduct, such as living with an expired Iqama, deportation is possible as well.

What Documents are Required for Iqama Application?

The employer has 90 days to file an application and get an Iqama approval, once the employee arrives in the country. Here is a list of documents the sponsor will require:

  • Valid Passport (Original and copy) of the employee
  • Their Saudi entry visa page
  • 2-4 passport sized, colour photos, against a white background
  • Passport sized photos of the employer
  • Medical check-up reports
  • Completed Iqama application form
  • Fingerprints (biometrics) taken at the airport by the immigration authorities.
  • Bank receipt for new resident Iqama fees (SAR 500 for first year and SAR 1,000 for two years)
  • HRD fee receipt of SAR 150
  • Medical insurance document

Who Qualifies for an Iqama?

Only an employer who has a valid Block Visa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) can sponsor foreign nationals as employees in Saudi Arabia. The duration of this visa is up to one year and has to be renewed. Next, all the documents have to be in proper order and submitted within 90 days of arrival. The applicant has to be above 21 years of age, with a good health record, free of infectious diseases, possess a valid passport and not have a criminal record. The Saudi government values applicants with professional and scientific skills.

What is the Application Procedure for Iqama?

It is the responsibility of the employer or sponsor to file the application with the MLSD within 90 days of arrival of the applicant, and get the due process completed.

  • First, the employer has to procure a Block Visa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) to apply for this visa. Depending on the requirements and Iqama quotas, if approved, the sponsor company is issued a Visa Authorisation number and a Power of Attorney by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in KSA.
  • This allows the employer to apply for a work visa on behalf of their employee, in the employee’s country of residence, at the appropriate Saudi Diplomatic Mission.
  • The employee will be asked to submit a medical certificate to process the work visa.
  • Upon arrival of the work visa, the employee can enter the Kingdom and start working with the company. However, within 90 days of the employee’s arrival in the Kingdom, the employer needs to submit the application for a work permit and Iqama to the MLSD. Here, the employee will be again asked to undergo a medical check-up at the designated local KSA government/private clinic, and the reports need to be attached with the application.
  • Once the employee receives the Iqama, which typically takes around 2 weeks, they can sponsor their family to come and live in the country. Iqama issued to the spouse and children will not be tied to the employer, but rather the employee. These are known as Iqamas for dependents.
  • During the validity of the Iqama, if the employee wants to exit and re-enter KSA, the employer will have to obtain an exit/re-entry permit from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior.

It is important to note that an employer can cancel the employee’s Iqama at any time, which automatically cancels the Iqamas of the dependents as well.

Iqama for Dependents

Employees with valid Iqamas can act as sponsors to apply for Iqamas for their family members. The Iqamas of dependent family members will contain all the important information, such as their name, date of birth, nationality and so on, except it won’t have any employment details. A residence visa has to be first issued by the Saudi Embassy of their country of residence. The requisite documents for this application are more or less the same, but also includes a photocopy of the marriage certificate, vaccination certificates, Iqama of the employee and the requisite Residence Permit fee. Male children above 18 cannot be sponsored by their fathers. Dependents are not permitted to work within KSA, without the appropriate permit.

How to Check the Iqama Status Online

Employees can check their Iqama status online for expiry dates and renewal.

  • Go to the official site of the Ministry of Interior, Saudi Arabia
  • From the menu tab on the homepage, go to “Passports”
  • From the list that appears here, select “Query Iqama Expiry Service”
  • You will be re-directed to the Absher portal
  • Choose “Integrated e-Services for Individual”
  • Create an account and login with your credentials
  • Enter the mobile verification code
  • After that, you can check your Iqama status by entering your Iqama number and the randomly generated image code. Click “View”.
  • Your validity status will be displayed on the same page.

Saudi Vision 2030

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is an ambitious initiative, undertaken by the government to build on the country’s unique strengths and capabilities. Thirteen key vision realisation programs have been created by the Council of Economic Development Affairs, to foster a vibrant economy that does not solely depend on oil. In order to diversify its economic structure, the Kingdom is now focusing on developing public services sectors, such as health, infrastructure, tourism, recreation and education.

This is why the government appreciates professionals with scientific and professional skills, not abundantly available in the Kingdom to take its growth trajectory forward.

Saudi Arabia Iqama Visa FAQs

1. What is the Iqama Visa of Saudi Arabia?

Iqama Visa is the Saudi Arabian employment permit or national residency permit that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the Kingdom. It is sponsored by an employer who has the right to hire foreign employees in their office premises, located in the KSA. Iqama can be renewed and transferred by the employer.

2. How Can I Get an Iqama?

Your employer will have to file an application with the Saudi Embassy in your country to obtain a work visa. Upon approval, you can enter the KSA and start working, but within 90 days your employer will have to submit an application for Iqama and work permit with the MLSD, along with the requisite fees and supporting documents.

3. Where online can I Check Online Status for Iqama?

To check the status of your Iqama:

  • Visit the official website of the Ministry of Interior
  • Go to the “Passports” section from the homepage
  • Select “Query Iqama Expiry Service”
  • Choose Integrated e-services “Individual” on the Absher portal
  • Create your account by adding your login credentials
  • Enter your username or Iqama number, along with the password
  • Enter your 4-digit mobile verification code
  • Click on the “Query Iqama Expiry Service”
  • Use your Iqama number and tap on “View” to check your current Iqama status and validity.

A green date will show that your Iqama is still valid, but a red date means that it has expired. In the latter case, you will need to renew the Iqama as soon as possible. Failure to do so on time can incur penalties.

4. How Much Does an Iqama Cost?

Companies renew the Iqama of their employees every year by paying a set fee. For small businesses, the Maktab E Amal or Work Permit fee is low, but for medium to large size business, this fee can go up to SAR 8,400 annually, plus renewal fees and health insurance, which totals SAR 9,750 per year. Companies with less than the required Saudi workers could end up paying more.

5. How to Check My Iqama Expiry Date Online?

To check the expiry data of your Iqama:

  • Visit the official website of the Ministry of Interior
  • Go to the “Passports” section from the homepage
  • Select “Query Iqama Expiry Service”
  • Choose Integrated e-services “Individual” on the Absher portal
  • Enter your username or Iqama number, password and image code
  • Enter the 4-digit verification code, which will be sent to your mobile phone
  • Click on “Query Iqama Expiry Service”
  • Enter the Iqama number and image code and tap on “View” to see your expiry status
  • If your date is shown in green, it means your Iqama is still valid.

6. How Long Does it Take for an Iqama to be renewed?

If the company/kafeel fulfils all the requirements of the application properly, Iqama renewal can be done within a day. There is no delay from the Jawazat. Once the Iqama is renewed, you will receive a notification on your mobile number that is registered with Absher.

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