Sunday, January 18, 2009

Procedure for changing profession in iqama



If there is one issue which is so close to any expatriate working in Saudi Arabia, it is the desire to bring his family to the kingdom. My heart goes out to my fellow expatriates who are staying without their families in the kingdom, like the lonely tree above. No other issue causes so much frustration, so much pain and so much anger than the fact that an expatriate cannot bring his family into the kingdom simply because the profession in his iqama does not allow him to do so.



I had covered the issue of profession in the iqama (click here) in an earlier post. There is this famous joke doing the rounds, of a lion in a Saudi zoo forced to eat peanuts, because he came on a monkey's visa! Nothing more could be more frustrating for a person, who cannot bring his family into the kingdom just because he holds an iqama with a non-supervisory profession. In other words, you could be a General Manager of a company, but if your iqama says that you are a painter, you cannot bring your family! Not only that, you cannot even sponsor your family on a visit visa (Click here to see the procedure of visit visa formalities, covered in my earlier post).




I have been repeatedly cautioning all potential expatriates about one thing: Don't be desparate to come to Saudi Arabia without your family. Life isn't all that easy here. It is a well-known fact that there are simply not enough visas in all categories. There are employers who simply bring skilled expatriates into the kingdom on whatever visa is available with a promise that once they arrive, they can bring their families. They are more concerned about running their business than anything else. There are also expats, unaware of the intricacies involved with the visa profession, come to the kingdom thinking that once they are here, they can always bring their families later on. When it later on dawns on them that they have a non-supervisory profession mentioned in their iqama, frustration begins to set in.





The anger and helplessness reaches its peak for those who are qualified and experienced, but are on a visa profession totally unrelated to their job. There was this famous case of a Principal of an International School who had to resign and go back, just because he was on a painter visa and hence could not sponsor his family. By the way, he was a professor with a Phd behind his name!





Changing the profession in an iqama is not at all an easy affair. This one particular post took me so long to write, because information on this was simply not available anywhere. To add to the misery, the list of professions which are barred from bringing their families keeps on changing frequently and to top it all, is not published in any public forum! The information that I have managed to collect in this particular post is based on first-hand experiences of colleagues and friends, who had to undergo a lot of hardships and finally could get their professions changed in the iqama. I just wish that atleast it makes life easy for other expats who want to change their professions too. A disclaimer: Don't ask me proof for what I am going to write below - there is just no information available anywhere else, so you have to just believe it! As I said earlier, it is based on experiences of my colleagues and is to be taken as a guideline.






First, the bad news. In case your profession in the iqama is mentioned as either 'Labor,Painter,Barber,Secretary,Mason,Plumber,Carpenter or Operator', you can straightaway stop reading further. There is no point in even going through this elaborate and really tedious procedure, because the authorities simply reject these cases. The only way is to go back to your country and return on a fresh visa. The list given here is also not exhaustive. I know it only from people who have been rejected before. No one knows for sure how many professions are barred and which those professions are!






If your visa profession is not any of the above, the next criterion is that you must be either a diploma or a degree holder. If you have crossed this hurdle, then the rest of the procedure is as follows:







Before we begin, a word of caution. This MUST be handled by your sponsor. Expatriates will not be usually entertained when they enter any Government office, so don't even waste your time. There are some sponsors who even charge their employees for this (for those in whose contract family status was not mentioned). The reason is not far to seek. The whole procedure is extremely tedious, time consuming and a big headache, so why would any sponsor help his employee when he is not obliged to do so? Be prepared for this also.







You must first get your diploma or degree certificate attested in your home country. Please read my earlier post (click here) on the procedure for attesting your certificate, in case you are an Indian national. For other nationalities, the procedure is more or less the same, except that it must be first attested by the Human Resources Ministry or its equivalent in your country before being counter-attested by the Saudi Embassy. Note that in case of Indian nationals, if you have completed your diploma in a private institute, it is not recognized and will not be attested by the HRD Ministry.







Next, bring this certificate to the kingdom. This has to be submitted to the Saudi Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Don't confuse this with the passport office (Jawasat). That's different. A charge of SR30 (thanks to reader MSK for updating me) is levied for this and you will get the certificate back usually on the same day. What they do is just to put their rubber stamp as a counter-attestation to the one done by the Saudi Embassy in your country. By this time, the rear side of your original degree or diploma certificate would be full of stamps/seals/signatures, but don't bother!







Next, your sponsor has to make a letter in his official letterhead in Arabic and put his stamp and signature at the bottom of the letter. The letter should mention all your details, your current job title, your qualification and experience, etc. It must also mention how many Saudis are employed by your sponsor and in which categories. The letter must make a strong justification as to why your profession has to be changed, and also how there are no suitable Saudi citizens to fill in that position. This is the most important part of the letter.







Next, your sponsor must hire a lawyer. Of course, it costs money, and you may probably have to pay for this also if your contract does not mention family status, so be prepared for this also. This lawyer must now go to the Labor Court in your town, fill in a form in Arabic and submit it to the authorities. The court will collect the documents and will allocate a date and time. Usually this is about 2 to 3 months later.







Now comes the difficult part. At the appointed date and time, the Saudi lawyer must be present in the court well in advance. Every case is allocated a certain time, say 30 minutes or 45 minutes. In case the judge is already hearing another case and it prolongs beyond that time, then another date and time will be allocated to your lawyer. Again, it will usually be about 2 to 3 months later. The important part is that if the lawyer has forgotten any document, or something is missing, he will be sent back and will be asked to appear again at another hearing, which will be a few months later.







Finally, when the time does come, the judge will scrutinize all documents. The lawyer must convincingly argue that you are indeed required and that there is no Saudi citizen available to fill up that particular position. If the court is convinced, they will put their seal on the Arabic form which was submitted.







This form has to be sumitted to the passport office (Jawasat). After paying a nominal fee, the passport office will put their stamp in your iqama after making the required changes in the system. Usually this would take about 15 days.







The whole process takes about 7 to 9 months, if everything goes smoothly.






If despite all this, you are unable to bring your family, then maybe it is time to draw a line and set right your priorities. It is better to go back and be with your family than continuing to suffer in silence. You are qualified and experienced and the world is full of opportunities, you should not worry about losing your job. There is always another one around.







Hope this post was useful.



101 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most bogus article you have ever written. You never have to go to the court to do this all.

Indexpatjub said...

Dear Expat guru
Really apapreciate the time you give to gather such information
You r the guru here in KSA
God bless you n your family

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I do not know what is "bogus" in this article. Where did I mention that you have to go to the court to do this? It is the sponsor-appointed lawyer who has to do it. I personally know colleagues who have got this done very recently. First read the article properly before commenting.

Indexpatjub said...

Mr anonymous you are a coward
why are you hiding behind anonymous name and and just bluffing ,have courage then come out and coment what is right what is wrong

Micper Siraj said...

Dear Sir,
With reference to my earlier comments and your replies on 15 and 16 Nov 2008 (under Permanent Family Visa blog), I am very shocked after reading this blog..!!!!
.
My Iqama renewal process is still pending from last 3 months due to "Medical Insurance" negotiation between insurance companies and my sponsor. Hope to get it soon.
My BCA & Marriage certificates are attested and I was ready to start the change of profession process as soon as I get my Iqama. Presently my profession is "Aamil Aaidi (General Labor)".

I am in dilema, whether to start the process or go on exit, after reading ...iqama is mentioned as either 'Labor,Painter,...', you can straightaway stop reading further..."

On the other hand I am much impressed with your words "....and the world is full of opportunities, you should not worry about losing your job."

Awaiting your suggestions.

Thanks and regards.

Islam.Ali said...

I would like to point out that the above steps is required only if the profession change is from the job category that is not allowed to bring there families (bad luck group) to the group of lucky expatriates, but if the change is within the "bad luck group" the process is simply a request inside the labor office that is submitted from the sponsor with the simply the old and new job and the expat certificates to hold the new job that should take 72 hours to complete ( after approval of the employment department in the office) then they issue a new Work Permit, then they send a letter to JAWAZAT to issue a new Iqama with the new profession.

Which is most cases in not a complicated process as the one already described.

Expatguru said...

Micper Siraj,

Before writing this particular post, I had to spend quite a lot of time verifying its authenticity. As mentioned in the post, these are experiences which my own colleague had to undergo. He got his visa profession changed in Dammam, by the way.

My colleague told me that files of people having the above non-supervisory categories were summarily dismissed by the judge. A lot of other things, however matter. Wasta plays a very big role, I am told. The reason why I had to write that particular sentence (with much reluctance) was that after undergoing the whole process in the final stage, if the judge rejects the application of a person having a non-supervisory category, then all the time, money and energy is a waste. You could still try your luck, but must be mentally prepared.

Unfortunately, there is no written rule and no transparency. No one really knows what is going on and till the court clears a particular case, no one knows the result. You could still take that chance and apply, but do be mentally prepared for the worst. Good luck!

Expatguru said...

Islam Ali,

That was a new insight. But I wonder why would anyone want to change from one non supervisory category to another?

Honestly, I feel that this whole thing about visa profession and bringing one's family should be delinked. A person should be able to bring his family if he can afford it, otherwise not. It should be left to the decision of the individual, and should have nothing to do with what his iqama profession says, isn't it?

Micper said...

Dear EG,
Thanks for your quick reply, it gives little hope and energy to me.
One more thing, regarding this "Court" and "appointment of lawyer": Is it a new rule? I was unaware of it, though I discussed these matters of family visa and change of profession process several times with many persons.
Thanks once again for all of your efforts.

Islam Ali said...

I totally agree, but answering your question about the reason why someone would like to change from one non supervisory category to another this is usually coupled with changing jobs from one sponsor to another that works in entirely different business line, so the expat has to change his job to match the new business activity of the new establishment, and by the way the same applies to changing supervisory position to another.

As a system analyst working in a project involving Ministry of Labor I have inside view of the business processes involving the labor office, and the good news we are trying to automate most of them and deliver them through the web.

One last thing I would like to than for the effort you are putting in this blog, I do enjoy reading it and I find most of its information both accurate and detailed.

Expatguru said...

Micper,

As mentioned in my post, there is not much information available on this anywhere. I have relied my post on the personal experiences of my colleague who got it done for himself in Dammam recently. I am not aware whether this is a new rule or whether it existed earlier or not, but this was the rule until very recently (a couple of months back). My colleague has now brought his family here. He is a man of high integrity and I have no reason to disbelieve him. If within the last 2 months any rule has changed, I am not aware. I am also not aware what the rule was a year back. He also told me that there were some agents taking money for carrying this out, but I cannot vouch for something which is illegal and which I am not sure of.

Expatguru said...

Islam Ali,

Thanks for your valuable inputs. It is heartening to know that MOL processes are on the way to being automated. It was long overdue anyway.

The biggest hurdle facing expats in the kingdom is lack of authentic and credible information. This blog was started to precisely fill that gap. I do not charge anyone for writing here (I have my own job) and if someone has got benefitted by this blog, then my day is made. Thanks for the encouraging support of readers like you.

Anonymous said...

Dear EG,

Great and Hard efforts again.

I did change my profession very recently and infact by my employer. So, I cannot comment on the procedure.

The only one point I would like to make here is the MOFA stamp (attestation) requires SR30 and not SR15. I did this very recently both for my degree certificate and marriage certificate at MOFA, Dammam. Both times they charged me SR30 on the counter. Hope its the right info.

Good work buddy.

MSK

Expatguru said...

MSK,

Thanks for the update. Is it SR30 per certificate or is it for both certificates (marriage and qualification certificates)?

Anonymous said...

No. I visited 2 times, for each attestation separately (for different reasons, by the way).
For each stamp they charged me SR30.

Hope clear now.

MSK

Anonymous said...

Please remove this article. Its hitting your crediblity.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. I certainly would do that if you would let me know which part of the article you found not credible. The idea behind this was to help people, not to mislead them. If you have some authentic information which you can provide with proof, please do so and I would gladly correct myself and even publish the same. Simply casting aspersions on the article itself is no good, unless you come up with a good reason. Ultimately, truth should prevail. Hope you understand.

Expatguru said...

MSK,

Thanks for the update. I have incorporated the same in the article.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expat Guru,

I am really impressed by the immense and in depth step by step procedures mentioned in your blog for the benefit of all expats. Next I would like to get your advice about my case. I am residing in Kuwait and working as “Purchasing Manager” for machineries and equipments because of holding following degrees & experience:-

1). Bachelor of Science Degree (Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics)

2). 3 years Diploma in Industrial Electronic Engineering from Kuwait Govt. College of Technological Studies, State of Kuwait.

3). I possess an experience of around 10 years in the same factory. I am residing here with my family in Kuwait. (but this experience certificate cannot be attested from any authority here in Kuwait because the current employer is not ready to provide the certificate, but internal staff and my direct manager has provided me the certificate which will not be attested by any authority due to Authorized Signatory problem).

Although the usual pre-requisite for Purchasing Manager job is MBA.

Will the above qualifications (3 years Diploma+2 years BSC duly attested by all concerned authorities) be enough for a company in Saudia to get a working visa for me with the profession of Purchasing Manager mentioned therein or they should apply for working visa with profession e.g. Industrial Electronic Engineer, or Chemist etc. So that there should not be any problem later on to bring my family to saudia? Is there any restriction upon the specialization mentioned in degrees and the nature of job?

The Factory which has offered me this job (Purchasing Manager for Machineries and Spare parts) they are asking me to first go back to Pakistan and then they will arrange a visit Visa for me. Because they are at this moment in the process of getting approval from Ministry of Labour Affairs (or whosoever is the concerned department) for around 150 visas which they say they will obtain till the end of February. So they told me to initially join their company on visit visa and later on they say that this visit visa will be converted to working visa. I have done a good research about the company and I found that they are already having a workforce of around 3000 workers and company is completely reliable and stable and is in busines for around 40 years.

But still I have two concerns in this scenario and I would like to seek your expert advice:-

What are the risks of working in Saudia while you are on visit visa?
What can be the consequences of being caught while working on a visit visa in a company?
Whether there is a way to change the visit visa to working visa?
Is there any possibility that I can also obtain visit visa for my wife while coming to Saudia on visit visa?
Is it possible for me to come to Saudia on Visit visa sent by this company directly from Kuwait instead of first traveling to Pakistan and coming from there?

If this company gets the working visa for me instead of visit visa from the first instance, is it possible to get also the visa for my wife at the same time? I mean is it possible that they apply for the visa of my wife along with my working visa? Is it possible that I and my wife can come to Saudia directly from Kuwait on working visa instead of first traveling to Pakistan and then coming to Saudia?

Best regards,
Kashi Kuwait

Expatguru said...

Kashif,

Most of your queries can be cleared by just reading through my entire blog. See the archives, specifically on visit visa procedures. Click on the calendar on the right hand side, choose a month and select a topic below which I have written in that particular month.

I would advise you to take an experience certificate in Arabic in your company letter head signed by any senior colleague. It does not matter if it is not "authorized". What matters is your qualification certificate issued in Pakistan. Read the procedure for attestation of your certificates, which I have written earlier in this blog.

I will advise you to NOT come here on a visit visa. Never believe any employer who promises that. Once you arrive here, you are totally at his mercy, so better wait till you get a proper visa. You cannot sponsor your family, till you get a permanent visa yourself.

Hisham said...

Dear Guru!

I need some information kindly help me in this regard.I was born here in Saudi Arabia, my family is still settled here and i completed my education in my country but keeping my visa alive by remaining attach to my father's Iqama.Then after the age of 18 i got my separate Iqama with the status of "dependent". Now I am 24 and i still posses the "dependent Iqama" under the sponsorship of my father.I use to renew my Iqama every year by providing students studying certificate from my institution back from my country. Now I've recently got married with a girl in my country. Obviously I want to bring her here in Saudi Arabia to reside along with me and my family. What should i exactly do in order to get a permanent family visa for my wife, without changing my sponsor i.e my father? Is my father as a sponsor authorized to give me a family status so that I can bring my wife here? Or can my father apply for the family visa for my wife by keeping her under his sponsorship as like me and my brothers do?
Kindly guide me in this regard and explain all possible and fastest solutions keeping in mind that i do not want to change my sponsorship.
Best Regards.

Expatguru said...

Hisham,

Sooner or later you will have to detach yourself from your dad's sponsorship. You are already 24 and for how long can you keep showing that you are studying in an institution and are dependent on your dad? Having said this, there is a way out.

Since your dad is settled here for a long time, he probably might be running a business or employed somewhere. In either case, he could have an arrangement with the Saudi sponsor to get an employment visa for you, with the understanding that all costs will be borne by your dad. This way, you can legally bring your wife and can settle here also like your dad did.

It is impossible for your dad to sponsor your wife. It is also impossible for you to sponsor your wife, because you are yourself your dad's dependent.

blaze said...

Dear ExpatGuru,

I found your blog interesting. I have been working in Riyadh since Nov 2007 and find the information accurate.

I am an Indian, working in a reputable IT company as a Senior Solutions Architect. The package is good and also I have my Master's Degree in Computer Science attested by the Saudi Consulate in India.

I have married a Bangladeshi national and we have been living together in Dubai and in India without any hassles. I now have a 2 year old son who is an Indian by birth.

It has been a nightmare ever since I came to Saudi Arabia when I attempted to get her the family visa. The Saudi Authorities (Isteqdam & MOFA) refused to grant me the visa. They refused point blank saying that we will not issue the visa since your wife is a Bangladeshi. I tried, in vain, to reason saying that I am an Indian and so is my son, that it is a family visa, and whatever I could think of.

Our company's HR sent their guy (Saudi) with the application for the visa for my family. They were a little more courteous but pointed out that they could not help because the visa is for a Bangladeshi.

I have repeatedly approached them (yes shamelessly) every other month or day. Nothing seems to move them, and I have really not faced such indifference, hostility and contempt in my whole life. But I'd do anything for the family!

I will have to point out here that I have very good Saudi friends who are extremely courteous and hospitable. They give me hope that not all is lost. So my laments are not against any nationality or race, but with behaviour of certain people that I have encountered.

I hear that there are some impending changes that will improve the situation, and I hope it does. But I am seriously contemplating moving out if things don't work out here. I have faith that the Almighty will provide for me always. I just wanted to share this with you and your readers since most expatriates have no clue what they are getting into when they are offered a job. They have a lot of notions (mostly rosy) about the life here.

I commend you for the trouble you take to do what you are doing in your blog. There are of course many sides to any story or situation. Needless to say the expatriate's side is the one that is expendable in this country. Any effort to give it a voice is truly commendable!

My compliments!

AS said...

dear guru how long does this whole process in transfering the iqama from one company under other if the person left the job 1 1/2 yrs back but still his iqama is not transfered and cannot travel around

can u kndly describe this issue in detail under some sep new topic as i am sure lots and lots of ppl wants to get this clear in their heads!

Muhammed Kashif Qadri Rizvi Ziai Attari said...

Dear Expat Guru,

I am still confused about the relation between profession written in employment visa and the degrees/diplomas obtained. To further investigate the matter I went through the website of Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad Pakistan and found the following information under category no: 5 of mentioned professions:-

Requirement for employment visa as per profession
5 - Engineer:
• Original Degree of B.Sc. attested by Ministry of Foreign Affairs + H.E.C and Saudi Cultural office + Saudi Consulate along with photocopies attested.

So I would like to know that whether in my case while holding following degrees:-

1- BSC (Physics, Chemistry, Maths)
2- 3 Years Diploma in Industrial Electronic Engineering

I shall be fulfilling the requirement for employment visa as an Engineer?

Best regards
Kashi
Kuwait

Expatguru said...

Blaze,

I feel so sorry for your plight. I think it is high time you draw a line and set right your priorities. You can always get a job elsewhere, the world is quite big and full of opportunities. Do not sacrifice your family life for the sake of money. Good luck!

Expatguru said...

AS,

The process should normally not take more than a couple of months (excluding Ramadan and Haj season), if both the companies agree on the transfer. If it has taken a year and a half, for sure something is wrong. Try to find out where your file is struck, with the present employer or the future employer.

Expatguru said...

Kashi,

You are entitled for an engineer visa. Make sure that you get both your degree as well as diploma certificates attested.

AS said...

dear expatguru, its been told that one paper is needed to be signed by the previous employer and then within 2 weeks of time this will get sorted u confirm what is the main procedure related with it and then how long will it take then its a req if u write a new blog in detail in relevance to this case............

Expatguru said...

AS,

The procedure I have mentioned here is to change the profession in your iqama. This is not the procedure for transferring from one sponsor to another. In case you are referring to the transfer procedure, I will collect the details, verify it and then write a separate post on the same.

AS said...

will be thankful if the bolg on this changing the iqama from one sponsor to another gets written as lot of ppl aroun not only read this but its also informative and ppl does follow this as the proper guidance.......

Expatguru said...

AS

Sure, will do that soon.

Hisham said...

Dear Guru !

Profession on my Iqamma is "Accountant". I've my university degree.Am I eligible for permanent family visa?

Expatguru said...

Hisham,

To my knowledge, yes, you are eligible. However, the list of barred professions keeps changing frequently and is never revealed publicly. If you are planning to bring your family do so quickly before there is a change in policy.

Arindam ghosh said...

Dear ExpatGuru<

Hello and greetings at the ouset .....

Very recently I have jointed a reputed organisation as GM HR in Riyadh from India. But as usual I reached here with "General Electrician" Visa. I was touring outside India when I received this Visa and company was also in hurry to get me over here. In addition to that I relied on them as they promised to chnage the visa again. Now, they are processing for a new visa with a designation of "Marketing Specialist" as a Non-Saudi is not eligible to work here in any HR position. I am supposed to travel GCC country and other coutry as well on behalf of this country and with the status of "General Electrician" that seems impossible. Isn't it? And even this catagory does not permit family visa, does not permit a peaceful social life, presitigious social life.

So, I will exit, get a new stamping on my new Visa (with "Marketing Specialist" designation), will come back and join again. Thats what me and the company agreed on.

My question, is it the right way to rectify the things as I at any cost do not want my passport contain "General electrician" visa. And to utilise me appropriately they also realised this visa does not work.

Is "Marketing Specialist" is a white collar job here on which a family visa can be processed by default?

Please help me out with your valuable suggestion.

Arindam Ghosh
E-Mail: ghoshariondam3@gmail.com
Cell: 0550599822

Micper said...

Dear All,
I was expecting lots of comments and discussions on such an important & burning topic. I would like to know the personal experiences of the persons who crossed this milestone recently. It will give great help to a fello expatriate like me.
What I believe is..."in this land, there is always an exceptional case with each person". I hope you agree.
Awaiting for your valuable comments & experiences.

Expatguru said...

Arindam,

I presume that your iqama has still not been prepared. You have already agreed with your sponsor to go on exit and return on a new visa. Please doubly make sure whether this new job title as a "Marketing Specialist" is not one among the various barred categories for sponsoring the family. Otherwise, all your effort would be a waste. To my knowledge, this category can bring the family.

You are quite new to the kingdom. Soon you would realize that irrespective of what your job title is, you are here purely on the pleasure of your sponsor. The day he decides that you are not required, you are out of here. Also, do note that in case any Saudi employee complains to the Labor office that there is an expatriate in General Manager level who is in charge of the HR department, you had it. For sure, that risk is there, but you must realize that all of us are here for money, nothing more, nothing less. So, don't be too bothered even if the "general electrician" visa is stamped. It will anyway be cancelled once you go on exit.

Expatguru said...

Micper,

I totally agree with you. What we see here is people going round in circles desparate for information, with no official word coming out from the Ministry. The least we should expect is atleast a list of categories barred from bringing their families.

That was by I had made it explicitly clear that this particular post was based on experiences of fellow expatriates. And one anonymous reader has the temerity to call it as a "bogus" report, without even countering it with "credible" information. I feel extremely disturbed by such comments, because I take a great deal of effort to compile data, personally verify it first and put it here and I don't charge anyone a single penny for this work. And look what I get in the end, after all of this!

Micper said...

Hmmm.... (yes)

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I needed your help to know if any mobile operator is offering any special offers catering to India (or Asian) expats? Like free minutes, sdiscounted rates, special prepaid SIM cards, etc?
Thank you!

Expatguru said...

I leave it open to anyone to answer this. It would be more appropriate to have your comments under this post

http://workinginsaudiarabia.blogspot.com/2008/12/telecommunication-in-saudi-arabia.html

Carl Vandenbroucke said...

Dear Mr Expatguru,

I've been offered an expatjob for a couple of months till two years at Al Jubail. My company will build a steel factory and they request my help in the project management team. I'm highly educated (Master degree) and +10y experience in project and steel matter en live currently in western-Europe / Belgium. They expect me ASAP (+/- March 2009). I want to bring my wife and child (2y old) with me. I've read your article (and hoped to read all past articles soon) but this mainly goes about changing profession. What specific items do I have to keep in mind to obtain a family permit ? Normally this will be done by our HR service, but I want to be informed about it.

Thanks in advance

Rishi said...

Dear Sir,

I am in Kingdom on business visa since 1month and working for a Software firm and I dont have Iqama, my question is i dont have any degree however i have certfications form IBM,SUN and Microsoft at the same time i have diploma from Aptech, so when my company sponsors for work visa and Iqama is that easy to get iqama where I can bring my family to Kindom. or if we wont have degree visa will not be stamped. your advise is highly appreciated.

Best Regards,
Rishi.

Expatguru said...

Carl,

When the Saudi visa is stamped on your passport, there will be a column where your profession would be mentioned in Arabic. This profession needs to be a supervisory one. You need to get this translated from Arabic. In case you find that it is a non-supervisory category, such as, labor, painter, carpenter, etc., you will not be able to bring your family. Also, the process of changing the profession once you come here is long-drawn and complicated. Do not take anything for granted. Also, you must note that once you land here, first your iqama (residence permit) has to be made. Only then can your family join you. Typically, this would take around 3 months. Good luck!

Expatguru said...

Rishi,

Your certificates are from private institutions which will not be attested by the HRD Ministry in New Delhi. It would be impossible to bring your family without a degree or diploma attested by the HRD Ministry and by the Saudi Embassy in India.

Atif said...

Sir i just got my profession changed to chemical engineer please tell is there any period limit to apply for visa or nothing i just go and apply

Expatguru said...

Atif,

There is no time limit.

Micper said...

Dear Atif,
Hope u r fine,
Will you please share something with us? How you got changed ur Profession????
What was ur old profession?
How much time it took for complete this process, total expenses?
Can you compare ur case with this corresponding article?
Any other imp. suggestion, comments.
Plzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I am waiting for ur comments.

Anonymous said...

DEAR GURU,
IAM ABDUL KAREEM, WORKING IN JEDDAH,AS A SECRETRAY. I WANT TO CHANGE MY PROFESSION IN MY AQAMA, PRESENTLY MY AQAMA PROFESSION IS PLUMBER. SO I HAVE B.COM ATTESTED CERTIFICATE WITH HRD,MEA, SAUDI EMBASSY & SAUDI FOREIGN AFFAIRS. SO PLEASE REPLAY ME HOW I CAN PROCESS TO CHANGE MY PROFESSION.
PLEASE REPLAY ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Expatguru said...

Abdul Kareem,

Unfortunately, it is not possible to even transfer your profession. Recently, the passport office has banned visa profession transfers for professions such as plumber, labor, painter, etc.

salman said...

Hi Expat guru,

I am currently working in Saudi Arabia, in an esteemed organization as Sales Representative and i am holding a Business Administration degree. Unfortunately due to lack of saudis in our company,the TRANSFER issues have become common & the officials are taking less interest in transferring employees.The profession on my IQAMA is student. As my father/the company he is working in is the sponsor. Can you please tell me how can i change profession on my IQAMA , so i can apply for a Visit Visa and bring my wife asap.

Thanks & Regards,

Mohammad Salman.

Dammam

Expatguru said...

Mohammad,

First of all, your company must arrange for a work visa for you. Make sure that this visa is not a sales representative visa, because you will not be able to bring your family in this category as this is among the banned category. Try to get a professional visa, eg., accounting specialist or something like that (because you have a business administration degree). Then there must be a formal employment contract from your company to you as though they are hiring you for this post. Your company has to process this through the passport office. Better to hire a professional Saudi PRO for this, if your company does not already have one. The process is quite complicated if expats try to do this.

MSP said...

Dear Sir,
I am working in a IT firm as a Programmer. My current profession on Iqama is Labour. As it seems very difficult to bring my wife here on family visa, I wish to invite her on job visa. She is Teacher by profession and holding Masters as well as B.Ed. degree. Recently she got one offer also.
I would like to know, after completion of her contract agreement with the school(eg. One year), is it possible to changer her sponsorship from that School to my Iqama? Whar are the conditions?
Thank you for your reply, in advance.

Micper said...

Dear MSK,
Today I came across your comments under "Change of Profession... blog"
You wrote: "I did change my profession very recently and infact by my employer. So,...."
I would like to know few things from you. Will you please share it with us.
1. What was your old Profession?
2. Your qualification
3. Your New/ Current profession
4. Total time for the complete process, after submitting your docs.
5. When you had submitted your documents for change of Profession.
6. Any other imp. suggestion.
Awaiting eagerly to hear from you soon.

Expatguru said...

MSP,

If you want to bring your wife here, the best way is for her to take up the offer (make sure that it has family status). As long as you are in the current iqama (i.e., labour visa), it is impossible to sponsor your wife, so even after the end of the contract with your wife's school, it is impossible for you to sponsor her. It is also not possible to transfer your profession from labour to a supervisory category (as per recent developments).

MSP said...

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your prompt reply,
you wrote....(make sure that it has family status)
What do you mean by that? Will you please clarify. Do you mean that, if she don't have family status then we cannot live together here or something else?

Expatguru said...

MSP,

Technically there is no such thing that you both cannot live together. Infact, I know friends who have done the same thing. It is just for getting a better deal from the school that I suggested that she comes on a family status. In case your own contract does not have family status, then the cost of the tickets / schooling for your kid(s) - if applicable in your case - would be on your pocket. That was the reason for the suggestion.

Jessica said...

Dear Expatguru,

This is the first time I've come across your very informative blog. I am an Aussie Muslimah (female Muslim) with English teaching qualifications. My husband and I have decided to relocate to the Middle East. Our family would be relying on my working visa to get us all there. How hard would it be for me to get a job as an ESL teacher in Saudi and bring my family with me? Are we kidding ourselves? What kind of hoops will we need to go through and approx how long could it take? (I'll go back and read some of your earlier posts to catch up...).

Thanking you in advance.

Expatguru said...

Jessica,

If you are planning to bring your husband on your visa, please note that he cannot work, as he would be your dependent. If this arrangement is okay with you, please proceed with your job search in Saudi Arabia. Do make sure about the visa profession (not to be confused with your actual profession, which obviously is a teacher). Do read all my previous posts from the beginning to have a clear picture. By the way, teachers are in great demand, but I am not sure how comfortable you would be here, due to the various restrictions on women.

Jessica said...

Thankyou for your very prompt reply!

My husband is a professional, but as he is a Thai national, we have been led to believe that it would be easier for me than him to...

1) find a job, and
2) make a better salary

Of course, he may be bored without a job for a year or two and he is asking if it would be possible for him to enrol in a course of study as my dependant, or would he need to apply for a study visa?

Many thanks for your time.

Expatguru said...

Jessica,

Now that you have mentioned your husband's nationality, there's some bad news. Relations between Saudi and Thailand have been at their lowest since a few years after the murder of some Saudi diplomats in Thailand. Hence, it is almost next to impossible for any Thai national to either get a job or even a study visa here. You can get more information on this if you do a simple Google search. You can try other countries in the GCC, but not Saudi Arabia.

superior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
faiz said...

Hi expat guru,

I am a permanent resident in USA. I need to ask you that what professions you think will be still in demand in saudi arabia , as i came to know that due to saudization, they are no more hiring in banks or only too little.

I request you to tell me scope of following
1) Accounting :CPA
2) Finance
3)Information Systems
which of these has bigger scope.

By scope i mean better chances of landing a job or more job openings.
Also are there any age limits like above 30 can not apply.
can you please elaborate on job market in saudi arabia. Also, being a us citizen has some advantage or its just equal to say pakistani citizen. bcos in job I never see any job specifically for us citizen.

Expatguru said...

Faiz,

The days of employing expatriates (westerners in particular) in banks are truly gone. For that matter, the number of westerners have reduced drastically in the past few years and most of them are employed in Oil & Gas industry or in areas where highly specialized technical skills are required. Accounting and banking are certainly not one of them.
IT has some scope, in the private sector, but again you should not be expecting higher salary because of your US citizenship, as there are equally or more qualified guys competing from eastern countries who are ready to work at lesser pay. Usually there are no age restrictions in private companies. You will never find a job specifically for a US citizen, because the economic crisis has also hit the kingdom badly and people have become extremely cost conscious.

Anonymous said...

i am a doctor working in moh.My daughter who was with me on family visa left saudi injune with a 6 month re-entry visa.Now 6 months has finished.Her ikama is valid till 10 march. Can i apply for a new family visa for her?Should i pay for it?My original family visa was free since i am in moh.My wife and son is having a valid re-entry visa

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

If possible try to bring your daughter into the kingdom before the expiry of the iqama. Please see elsewhere in this blog how to bring a person after expiry of exit/reentry visa.

If you cannot bring her before 10th March, her visa would get automatically cancelled. It is quite a process then. You would have to bring her on a fresh visa later on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

My profession is changed in maktabul amal card one month ago,but stilll not stamped on my passport..is my mandoub playing with me or shall i consider job done..

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

The job is not done until you actually see it appear in your iqama.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

My Iqama is stamped and my profession is changed in passport as well.Thanxs for such a helpful blog it helped me a lot.....continue doing gud work.

Best of luck for whoever are awaiting for profession change.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guru

You are doing a great job,is it possible to change my profession in iqama if i have an Distant MBA degree from a indian private institute attested by MEA and KSA Consulate.

waiting for your reply ASAP

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

It all depends on your current profession. Certain professions like labour, driver, painter, carpenter, mason, etc., cannot even be transferred. No one know why not, but this is the practice currently followed. Also, this keeps changing frequently, so you will have to just try your good luck!

Anonymous said...

I have been offered a job by a Contracting Company in Saudi. Previously I worked in the UAE and I had a professional visa (Civil Engineer) there. Now it is cancelled. But my profession is stamped on the UAE visa page of my passport. Now I'm working in Oman with the same profession. Can I get Saudi Visa with the same profession by showing my previous UAE visa or by producing the present Resident Card copy of Oman?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

It purely depends on your luck and is immaterial of your past or current profession

Mohammed Z. said...

Would like to share my case here. I am Indian Passport.
Arrived in Kingdom on low category visa "Kaharabai Aam" in May 2008 working as Computer Programmer.
Received Iqama next month, June 2008.
Profession changed to Computer Programmer "Mubramij Haasib Aali" in Feb 2009. Process took about a month.
Applied for family residence visa next day. Family Visa was issued immediately.
I hope this info helps.

sajid said...

asak
i am a dentist with all my certificates and license attested from saudi council.but when i applied for transfer to my dismay i found my visa in my paasport and iqama is of a radiologist.
can u please tell me how much time and money may be rquired to change the profession because without that the labour court is not permitting the transfer

Expatguru said...

Sajid,

It may take anywhere betweeen 4 to 7 nmonths, excluding Ramadan and Haj times.

arif said...

Dear Mohammad Z

You have given a great news getting profession change in iqama with in one month...Can you share the process with us too...i am in bad need to change my profession from electronic technician to electronic engineer to bring my family...thanks in advance....

Arif

Badiuzzama said...

hi , please tell me is there any charge for transfer online credit to the other local bank and international bank please describe local and international charges. and if i sand money via net banking international transaction what I choose? there are some international currency and in this not available our currency name then what i choose?
thanks

Expatguru said...

Badiuzzama,

The bank charges vary from bank to bank and is not uniform. If your currency is not listed, the internationally accepted currency is US dollar.

Ramkumar said...

HI

I am here on a Technician Visa. My company is attempting to change my profession on iqama to Engineer. They face some problem in labour office because of company registration issues for the last 15 days. They say once it is fixed i can get the profession change in 1 day.

But after reading your blog on the process it looks like it will 2-3 months with lawyer and court involved.

Just wanted to know if some rules has changed recently so you get the profession change quickly like my company says or my company is missing something. If it is going to take 2 -3 months , then I would better go out & come in on a new engineering visa

Please advice

Thanks in advance

Poorani said...

Are you sure even now it takes 2 -3 months to get the profession change done on IQAMA?

Expatguru said...

Poorani and Ramkumar,

Please read my latest post on changes to family visa procedure. Visa profession has now been delinked from the family visa process. It will henceforth be based on your monthly income, irrespective of your visa profession. Hence, don't waste your time trying to change your profession in the iqama, unless you are particular about it. The only issue still undecided is the income level. My sources say that this is under serious discussion and being such a sensitive decision and also one which has far-reaching consequences, an official directive in this regard is delayed. These are transient times, and hence one must have patience.

Ramkumar said...

Thanks for quick reply.

When kingdom will start giving family visas based on salary , is anybody's guess now.B'cos people say these kind of announcements will stay at the newspaper level. I visited Jeddah, Ishtekdam and people there doesn't even want to talk about it and say when we get information you will get the same.

That's why I am trying to understand the current process of changing the profession.

Expatguru said...

Ramkumar,

Visa profession change takes 'usually' 2-3 months. This is quite normal. If your company already has an engineer visa and is ready to support you genuinely, please go on exit (not exit/reentry) and return on the new visa. But going by what you say regarding the problems of your company regarding registration, I wish to caution you that this also may get delayed, so choose your next steps carefully. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Dear Expat Guru

Quite a nice and informative blog. Many thanks for the same.

I have just come to KSA with Drilling Technician visa but my actual profession is Accountant and i have B Com degree with all attestations. Due to Ramadan and coming Eid holidays, i will get my iqama only after Eid.

I have couple of questions for you. [1] Do i need to change my profession from Drilling technician to Accountant for applying for family visa (as i understand i will be asked for the degree certificate when i apply for family visa)? If so, will it be easy to change the profession to Accountant?

I appreciate your help.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed personalized reply.

Jamsheed the Dj lion said...

Dear EG,
after reading the blog.. i am really tensed and depressed. i am a Mall manager by proffesion but in my iqama it says as "loading &unloading labour" i thought i will bring my family somehow after the certificate attestation. i think if could read this blog before selecting my this job i would have saved many things. i am on the edge of a big loss. if i cant bring my family in few months time then i will be a big looser as i resigned my old family status job to this job.
dear EG people like me does have any rights to dream atleast about family status

jamsheed ali

Khan said...

Hi Mr. guru, I am Khan. I got MBA degree from UK and 3 years accountant experience. I want to COME IN KSA and wanna do job there. One of my friend there is offering me Technician profession independent visa. Can i bring my wife on this profession?

My wife has already re-exit visa on her passport because her father(my father in law) is accountant in riyadh and has got family status visa from his company.

Can you suggest me your advice

REGARDS

M KHAN

Expatguru said...

Khan,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Yassar said...

Hi Expatguru. You are doing an amazing job. Keep up the work.
My query here is that, I am under my dad's sponsorship and I have separate iqama. I completed my engineering degree (B.Tech) last month and now I would like to work here as an engineer in KSA.
Is it possible for me to work when I am under my dad's sponsorship?
Otherwise what is the procedure?

Expatguru said...

Yassar,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

I came to KSA in Nov 2010 and invited family on visit visa in Feb 2011 coz was not aware reg documents attestation and I was on operator visa, Now got the family visa 2 months back... as I have three years diploma and also company gave a letter mentioning my salary on that.

This is just FYI purpose.

Regards,
Vishwas.

Nabil said...

Hello Sir,
Following for Your & several readers information. May be the info provided by U, need an overhaul. Appreciate you effort though.

I m working here in Saudi Arabia in an Office Executive Job, My Company at the time of interview asked me that coz they are not aware of my work experience they will hire me first on a labour visa and on my satisfactory performance will change it to family visa. I AGREED.

Now after i have proved myself in an year .. the HR manager asked me to get my certificates & Degrees attested so he can process the Profession change, I give my Degrees o an Agent in Pakistan .. who get it stamped from following Authorities;

1- University of Karachi,
2- Higher Education Commission, Islamabad,
3- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan
4- Saudi Consulate &
5- Saudi Culture

For Saudi Consulate & Culture my company wrote & chamber stamped a letter mentioning the need of my profession change from Labor.

After tht my Family couriered me, My Documents, One Original & One Copy .. I gave it to our HR manager & he submitted it and gave me back my New Iqama in 5 days ... I didn't had to go Any where & my Profession changed from Labor to Quality System Auditor.

Nabil

Expatguru said...

Nabil,

Thank you for the information. Maybe what you wrote is applicable for Pakistani citizens. For other nationalities and in particular Indian citizens, it is a totally different case. One has to go personally and agents are not entertained. I always update information in my blog and personally verify before I write something. In this case, I personally know a case of an Indian national who had to undergo whatever I have mentioned, just 2 weeks ago. Thanks anyway for your update for Pakistani nationals.

Anonymous said...

Am i right in assuming at you can enter and work as a skilled worker even though your visa may show you as a unskilled worker??. Only problem with unskilled worker visa is that it doesnt have family benifits?

Expatguru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

In case of a raid by the Labor Ministry, you would be in trouble if you are caught doing a job not compliant with your visa category. Family is just one of the several benefits you stand to lose as an unskilled worker category.

Unknown said...

Asak,
My question may sound little weird but if you have any suggestions pls do. I have an Engineering (mahandis) Profession on my Iqama with family status, which i got it a year ago and working now. However my question is, I have this profession but for some reason my convocation is on a delay. Can i still get my family on my profession without having to produce certificates.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

My husband's profession is electronic technician, when he applied family visa for us, he was told that only visit visas will be granted to me and my children. We were frustrated since that profession was supposed to recruit us as his family. Anyway, he still applied for our visit visas 90days and renewable twice only. Now, hes planning that once we arrive there, he will change his profession. My query is can he change prof without me(and children) going back to our home country? Were worried about the expenses. His employer said we'll just have to pay him 5000 riyals and will be done in just 3days for changing his profession. But we didnt believe him coz last time they renewed myhusbands iqama, it toojk them 6months.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

If things were so easy, there would be milk and honey flowing in the streets of the kingdom. Unfortunately, it is not true. Do not waste your money, time and energy in believing these things.