Saturday, June 2, 2007

More on visas

Due to the strict visa control by the Saudi government, it may not always be possible to get a work visa. An indirect way, though, would be to get a business visa. However, your sponsor must convince the government that this visa is for a specific project and your stay would be only for a short duration (typically 2 months or so). The problem with this kind of visa is that it is suitable only for short-term working, for example, a turnaround or shutdown job in an industry. You will not be able to bring your family with this visa as you would have come to carry out a specific business in the kingdom for a short duration only.

Some people try to come on a visit visa, but if you are caught working for a sponsor and you have come on a visit visa, then you are asking for trouble, because this is illegal. Also, unlike the UAE, it is a herculean task to get a visit visa converted into a work visa.

In short, if you want to work in Saudi Arabia and you are looking for long-term employment, make sure that you have a valid work visa and the correct profession mentioned in your visa. This would save you from a lot of hassle later.


Ramki said...

Thanks for the straightforward, no-nonsense type of information which is hard to come by. Can you also write about how easy or hard it is to raise kids here, for example stuff about schooling etc

Raju said...

Thanks for the comments. Infact, I am planning to write on a whole lot of issues in the days to come viz., formalities to be done before someone comes into the kingdom, culture of the country, a list of Dos and Don'ts, what to expect and what not to, etc. All depends on the encouragement and comments of the readers.

Ritwick Sanyal said...

I have a very specific query. I have a 90 days multiple entry visa. I entered riyadh in the first week of June and left on the 13th day. After returning to India, I had to update my photo in the passport and as a result I got a new passport. My Saudi visa is in the old passport. Do I need to stamp the visa on my new passport too. Or can I show both the passports at immigration and get entry. Hope to hear from you.

Expatguru said...


You must carry both the passports. However, once you enter the kingdom, your multiple visa would automatically get cancelled and you will have to apply for a new exit/reentry visa.

Mudassar said...

I'd rather emphasis on two important cases:

1- Business Visit Visa
2- Commercial Visit visa

the documents requirement for both are different by Saudi Embassy in your country; but usually the main facilitation is provided by a MOFA letter i.e. an electronic visa for you which has to be endorsed by the local saudi embassy.

Sometimes you are required to go through vaccinations; and to produce an E-NO; which is to register your details at MOFA website corresponding to your MOFA visa.

another important point is to be caution of
1- Validity
meaning within this period you must enter the kingdom

2- Multiple Entry / Single Entry

3- Duration of Stay
for each stay how many days you are allowed to stay.

Your sponsor have to apply specifically as per his requirements. and thus some of my friends who got 6 months multiple entry visa; while others 3 months multiple entry visa; but duration of stay only 2 weeks.

it depends on various circumstances.

In my case; not only i worked on business visit visa for over a year (i got it renewed as well as traveled back to home and came on new visa)
but i brought my family with me as well.

Your sponsor has to mention your family details in MOFA letter and you only need to present the marriage certificate and within 2 days you and your family get 3 months 90 days visa with 1/3 month duration of stay.

I welcome other experiences to learn from; but I never had any problem for house/car renting, medical, traveling across kingdom etc .. except that you can't open a bank account.

now I got a work visa; and hopefully will stop frequent traveling back to my home country. its enjoyable but tiring sometimes.

Expatguru said...


Great to know of your experiences. I really wonder how you were sending remittances for a whole year without a bank account! I would personally never advise anyone to come on a business visa if it is going to be for such a long duration.

I am also eager to know how you managed your medical, without an iqama, as it is usual for hospitals to ask for a copy of the same for registration purposes.

Mudassar said...

Dear Expat Guru,

It was neither my call nor my choice; the employer wanted me eagerly and didn't have the right quota of work visas at that time.

I received a MOFA letter (one should verify its content by entering the visa number at the mofa website), the company arabic job offer letter attested by chamber of commerce and commercial registration copy from my employer.

With these documents in hand; I managed to get a local company 2yr experience letter and local chambers membership certificate, took my degree and marriage certificates (no translation/attestation etc), filled visa forms for myself and my wife and submitted it to local embassy.

The very next day I got the visa stamped on our passports (karachi-PAK) mentioning (3 months validity, multiple entry, duration of stay (muddat iqama) 1 months). :
meaning we can stay for a maximum of 1 month for each stay within a total duration of 3 months.
written puprose: work visit for my company.

Regarding salary I've requested my company to transfer it to my bank account back home; They give me cheques whenever I need money in SAR; which is easily cashed from any bank showing my passport, Alternatively sometime they pay in cash on my request;

for remittance from cash I use to take any of my friend (having an IQAMA) to go with me to nearest exchange. They sometime break the amount into two or more transaction if the amount is big and keep the iqama copy with it.

On arrival to saudi; on submitting passport/visa copies and pictures within first 3 days we got medical insurance cards from NCCI valid for a year; thanks to our PR department. We can go to all major hospitals in the kingdome with this card. No one asked for iqama so far.

We got postpaid mobile numbers from company; letter to car rental where we got a car showing my int'l driving license; letter to aqari helped me to get the house on rent for a year. I preferred the house/villa portion than the compound.

We travelled across kingdome and checked several times by traffic/police .. no objection etc. even no traffic fine as well.

Of course exception is not the rule; but this is just to explain the situation for some professionals, who wanted to come on business visit visa; if your company is good .. you should not face any/many problems.

btw I know many IT/TELECOM companies are benefiting from govt' this initiative these days; and by the time they get work visa they get their employees regularized. The whole process is LEGAL.

Comments / Suggestions are welcome.

best regards

Anonymous said...

I am working as a Draughtsman in Saudi Arabia.My visa what am holding here is Plumber.I studied in ITC (Industrial Training Center) and am having Government of Kerala Industrial Training Department Professional National Trade Certificate.I want to change my profession for bringing my family here.Is it possible to change my profession as per this certificate?
I am expecting yours immediate reply..

Expatguru said...


It is possible to change your profession as per this certificate. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

OHH...really guru...thnks..thanks a happy to hear tht....

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the wonderful site.
I work in a reputed organization in Riyadh as Purchase Officer but my iqama is labor. My problem is that I actually was not able to finish my course which is Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. I lack a few units back in college. Is it possible to change my profession into a suitable one so I could bring my family considering that I am not a degree holder?
Please I need your advice.
Thank you.

Prince John

Expatguru said...

Prince John,

Thanks for your views on this blog. The only way you can bring your family is to change your visa into a profession which is supervisory. In case you do not have a degree, try to get a supervisory visa atleast. Alternatively, contact one of the various long timers in the kingdom such as shopkeepers, who have brought their families. Maybe they know a way out. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the quick reply. Please can u name a few which are under the "category" supervisory? I have friends such as storekeepers/store incharge but they're just lucky enough to get a diploma so they didn't have problems.
Thank you again. Keep up the very good works.


Prince John

Expatguru said...

Prince John,

There are more than 30 categories which are in the restricted list. This includes all kinds of operators, labor, carpenter, mason, etc. The list keeps changing frequently. As a thumb rule, you can take it that any category which is not supervisory, as mentioned above, cannot sponsor his family. If you do not have either a diploma or a degree, it is going to be quite difficult to bring your family, because the Saudi Embassy will be attesting the same. I would advise you to contact one of the professional agents who can help you better on how to go about this.

Anonymous said...


I am getting a computer Technician Iqama Can i get family status with this Iqama if yes then how long it takes, secondly i am purchasing this iqama from my personal links as i have'nt got job yet in KSA is it legal to go KSA with this Iqama where i have paid Kafil to give me this Iqama and i will search for job once i am there. Will this Iqama be transferable in future to any employer or i should ask Kafil to give me a transferable Computer Technician Iqama?

Thanks SS

Expatguru said...


I am glad you asked me this question. Unlike earlier times when visas were being sold and bought freely, the Saudi Government has now tightened the rules. It is now illegal to buy a visa, come to the kingdom and then search for a job. You are facing a very big risk.

Secondly, there is no such thing as a "transferable" visa. I am absolutely positive that when your sponsor is making money by selling a visa (which itself is illegal), for sure he will also demand money for transferring your visa. You will only end up paying money and landing in a job which doesn't pay well. Remember, people trying for a job with such a job cannot bargain much for a good salary as compared to those being recruited directly from the home country. It will result in you paying a lot of money and gaining nothing finally. If you have a computer diploma or a degree, there are other legal ways of getting a job in the kingdom. Do not be desparate to come to Saudi Arabia, this is not a bed of roses here.

Mohammed Quader said...


i got a visa which is MANJEED MARKABAT can you please translate for me and can you tell me what type of visa it is.
-is it transferable,
-i have a Bachelors degree in Computer Engg, so would it be a prob later in changing the profession?.
-After the professions changed i can bring my family there right?

waiting for your reply,

Expatguru said...


I have verified this with a few Saudis. No one knows the meaning of the word "Manjeed". The nearest is "Manajit" which means a tailor of Arabic sofa sets. "Markabat" means vehicles. My wild guess is that it could mean a guy who is doing furnishing of vehicles, but I am not sure. In any case, it appears to be a non-supervisory category.

If you want to bring your family, first get your Baehclor's degree attested by the Saudi Embassy in your country. You will then have to change the profession in your iqama. Only then can you bring your family.

himansu said...

Dear friend,
I have a family visa.My wife is now in India with an exit and re-entry visa. We are expecting a new born baby in India soon. If I want to bring the baby within 2-3 months of birth,is there any requirement of separate visa or we can bring without the visa and after reaching hear we can add him to the existing Ikama? Kindly reply.

Expatguru said...


The baby will be given a visa on arrival at the airport. However, make sure that the baby has a separate passport, not attached with the mother.

shakeel said...

Dear friend,
i have a family visa.My wife and me r in India now for holiday with an exit and re-entry wife has given birth to a new baby in india now. so I want to take the baby with my wife to riyadh,is there any requirement of separate visa for that new born baby or we can bring without the visa and after reaching hear we can add him to the existing Ikama? so plz give the correct process for tht Kindly reply

Expatguru said...


Your baby would be provided a visa on arrival here. But make sure that your baby has a birth certificate and a separate passport (not attached with the mother), before you bring your child into the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I work as research scientist for an american manufacturer of dedicated scientific equipment. KAUST has bought a big laboratory from my employer and wanted to have included scientific support for two years as well. For this reason my employer wants to send me for two years to KAUST. Surprisingly, KAUST resists to be the sponsor. How can my work be arranged at KAUST?

Expatguru said...


It is the responsibility of KAUST to arrange a visa for you even to enter the country, so let your company officially write to them about this.

zaid said...

Dear Expatguru,

I have got an offer from a engineering company in riyadh, will shortly be moving there for my employment.

I recently got married and my wife has a saudi visa through his father,can she travel with me on her existing visa and later transfer it through mine.
She is pregnant by 7 months, will the authorities question her on entry as her existing visa goes void after marriage.
Her visa is valid till May,what if I leave her in India for delivery and arrange for a dependent visa and bring her and the kid inshallah!
Please advise me on the same. What are the documents i would require to transfer her visa to mine, if she comes there in existing visa, or what is the procedure to arrange for a dependednt visa for her and the new born after april.


Expatguru said...


Considering the personal nature of your query, I would advise you to please fill in your query in the form through the link given in the top right hand corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this. This would take care of your privacy while at the same time give you a personalized reply.

Tushar Parikh said...

My duration of stay is 90 days and validity is also 90 days with multiple entry. Within these 90 days, I have been outside KSA and returned.
I returned on the day number 80. Does this mean that my visa is valid for a further 90 days after the 80th day?
Or is it still valid only for the originally provided 90 days?