Saturday, December 26, 2009

Changes to family visa policy in Saudi Arabia

This is one of the best news which expats working in Saudi Arabia have been waiting for since such a long time. Finally, it is now official.

For the past 10 days, since the arrival of the Saudi crown prince from abroad after his successful medical treatment, expats in Saudi Arabia have been treated to a very special gift. Family visa rules had been relaxed. All one had to do was just to pay SR25 towards visa application fees and everyone who applied was issued a family visa. Yes, you read it right, a permanent family visa irrespective of one's profession. Word spread like wildfire and soon crowds started swelling in passport offices all over the kingdom. Years and years of pent up frustration in not being able to bring one's families, just because the visa profession was not supervisory, simply changed into uncontrollable joy for the thousands of expatriates who were without their near and dear ones.

The crowds became uncontrollable and soon the passport office had to put a ceiling that not more than 1000 applications per day would be considered, due to the huge and unexpected response. This was THE day which people were expecting. As usual, there was no official announcement and everything was just by word of mouth. But who cares, as long as the work gets done.

Well, the news has now become official, but with a rider. An income ceiling, which is yet to be confirmed, has been proposed to regulate the milling crowds. My sources tell me that pending the decision on the minimum income, issue of family visas has been temporarily put on hold and is likely to be resumed within a week's time. In the meantime, take a look at this link for the "official" version in the local press:
http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=130232&d=26&m=12&y=2009

The myriad complicated procedures must hopefully be a thing of the past. A cursory look at my previous post on family visa (click here) and the over 300+ comments from desparate readers wanting to be with their families, shows the pent up frustration of expats in not being able to be with their kith and kin.

12 years back when I landed in the kingdom, the Principal of an international school, a Phd qualified gentleman, quit his post in disgust as he was on a painter visa which was not entitled to sponsor a family, never mind that his actual profession was a Principal. Hopefully, all such nonsensical procedures should soon be a thing of the past. As usual, this blog would come out first with any developments on this, so watch out for this space. Meanwhile, on this happy note, let me welcome the arrival of the New Year with a warm wish to all my readers.

47 comments:

Mayo said...

This is fantastic news! Thanks Expatguru, for breaking this great news!

Babu said...

Thanks for this wonderful info. Just hope that the income ceiling is realistic.

Expatguru said...

Thanks, Mayo and Babu. Let's just hope that the proposed income limit is not too high to exclude most of the expats.

S.A. நவாஸுதீன் said...

wow. what a wonderful information sir. you made may day today.

If you give permission I want to share this very useful information in my blog.

Anonymous said...

But Brother when i try to fill the form available at https://visa.mofa.gov.sa/%5CVisaFamilyApp%5CFamilyApp.asp

i am unable to fill the nationality and departure point ("Jihat ul Qudoom").. its wont accept any key strok...

can you help

Expatguru said...

நவாஸுதீன் ,

By all means, please feel free to share this information.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You must use the dropdown menu for chosing your nationality and departure city.

sheila said...

hi! thank you for this great news! just want to ask, if you happen to have any idea, can the wife sponsor her husband?

Nasim said...

Hi, when i am trying to submit the application then message comin "this service is paused". any idea

Expatguru said...

Sheila,

Good question. A wife can certainly sponsor her husband. However, please note that the husband cannot work as he would technically be a dependant of the wife. A popular route taken by people exercising such options is to bring the husband on the wife's dependent visa, search for a suitable job here and then leave the kingdom, only to come back on a fresh visa of the employer.

Expatguru said...

Nasim,

As mentioned in my post, new applications are temporarily on hold till the income limit is finalized by the Saudi Government.

M. Dilshan Hameed said...

I am an expat in Saudi, am planning to get marred to a divorced lady who has a one year old daughter. Can I take my step daughter in family visa. Please reply as its a very determining factor for our marriage. We are muslim (if this info. is required) - (email id edited by Expatguru for privacy reasons)

Expatguru said...

Dilshan,

Please use the form through the link given in the top right hand corner of this blog for such private requests. I charge a nominal fee for this. This helps me segregate spam from genuine requests while also giving you a personalized detailed reply.

Anonymous said...

SR25 only ?! It used to be SR2000 before.

Expatguru said...

SR25 is the price of the application form, not the cost of the process.

umar said...

Hi,

I used to work in Saudi Arabia.one and half years back I came back to india and due to personal problems I could not go back. I contacted my employer and explained that I will not be able to come back for work and my employer had agreed for that and therefore I stayed back in India itself.
Umder these unfortunate circumstances I did not close my bank account and did not inform the bank about my status and hence have my savings still in my Saudi bank account.
Now I am trying to transfer amount to another saudi account of my friend staying there so that he can send me my money But I am not able to trasnfer it.
What do I have to do to get my money back.
I did not know I will have to lose my money like this.

Please help me some proper information as I do not know what to do.

Regards,
Umar

Expatguru said...

Umar,

Please send in your query through the form using the link given in the top right hand corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this, which would ensure that you get a personalized reply.

Shaiku said...

Great News, this news spread as wild fire from mouth to mouth, no wonder I see it here, great job done. Apart from this news, visit visa's are available now for all regardless of professions.

Though the news is there in papers, in reality the permanent family visa is not yet operational, lets hope this will get up and running very soon ending the woes of a large number of expat community...

tanvir said...

Dear Expatguru, but when exactly this new visa rules with start from visa office.. pls answer...

Expatguru said...

Tanvir,

I wish I knew the answer to it. Currently they are still trying to figure out what exactly would be the best salary level which could enable people to bring their families, irrespective of their professions. This is a difficult issue and it is no wonder that it is taking time. Till such time this is decided, all family visa applications are temporarily kept on hold. I will certainly keep this post updated as soon as I receive reliable information on this.

Pak2VOIP said...

Brothers !

i have visited to Mofa office on Dahran Road Dammam, but they said go to Estakdaam office then i went to Estakdaam office Near King KHalid Road dammam i asked there too manay peoples of inside office but they all said there is no New system, still old one, you have to be good profession then only. NO CHANGE.

as i heard news and read on Alyoum newspaper only its was open on 20 dec in Riyadh only. for Dammam and Jeddah not yet open.

And i also heard that may be in Jan 2010..

But till this time there is no News.
please share your views.

Regads,

Naveed

Pak2VOIP said...

Mr. Tanvir.

thanks for your information.

its look like real. i will Inshalah keep the update you guys.

thanks a lot

Naveeed

tanvir said...

thanks mr.expatguru, you are a lifesaver. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi,
As Shaiku said, visit visa is available for all profession ? is it true ? Please reply

Expatguru said...

Yes, they are now no more bothered about the profession for visit visa. Just pay and you get it. Wish it is the same for permanent visa also.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru, are u sure, this is really a official news, cause nothing seemed to have changed, they dont give visas to labor, pls comment. thanks

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I have given you the official confirmed news by quoting a newspaper report and giving you the link for the same. As you are aware, if something appears in print in Saudi Arabia, it has to come with official sanction. Having said this, one must understand that a policy decision such as this is a major one and takes time. One must have patience till it comes into effect. To give you an example, NOC was officially banned in the year 2006, but was partially lifted for certain nationalities only in 2009. I am not suggesting that it would take the same time. Honestly, I do not know how long it would take to implement this change as I am also another expat like you. Experience has taught me that one needs to have tremendous patience and this is one such instance.

Anonymous said...

a list of family members who can be sponsored by expat in saudi,will be appreciated
eg.brother,uncle etc

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I am glad you asked me this question. People think that family visa is applicable to any relative - from uncle to sometimes even grand father. The definition of "family" as far as sponsoring a visit visa is restricted only to your own parents, your in-laws and your children. You cannot sponsor any one else, not even your own brother/sister/uncle/aunt/grand father/grand mother/nephew/niece/whatever.

rathi devi said...

sir,
iam rathi devi.
u have been doing a great service.
iam working in MOH.physiotherapist specalist.
is it females are eligible to bring their husband here in family visa?
thank u sir

Expatguru said...

Rathi Devi,

Females can certainly sponsor their husbands if they are entitled for a family status. However, please note that the husbands cannot work as they would be considered as your dependents as they are part of your iqama where you are the sponsor.

Pak2VOIP said...

any updates????? plz reply is this new system is implemented?

Expatguru said...

Pak2VOIP,

Until now,it is the same status. The wait could be quite frustrating, but then this is the way the system is, so what can anyone do about it?

Anonymous said...

Hi Expatguru,

Further to the list of family members you mentioned, undoubtedly, an applicant can request for a visit visa for his wife as well, isnt it? ('Wife' was not listed) And the other query I have is, I am already a GCC (Qatar) family visa holder. But my husband resides in RUH. So can I apply for a visit visa from Qatar?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I did not mention it because I thought it was obvious. Certainly, a wife/husband can sponsor her/his spouse. I do not know the rules of Qatar and hence cannot answer the second part of your query.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Can a person with his profession in Iqama as labour, apply for a visit visa, in the prevailing situation? If so for how many months is it valid? Is it extendable? Do we need to go for medical tests even for visit visas? If a visit visa is issued, then in how many months should the dependent enter in KSA? Sorry if I am asking too much.

Thank You and May God bless you.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I cannot answer whether a person with a labour visa "can" apply for a visit visa. All I can say is that ever since the recent policy change was announced in the local press, the authorities are allowing everyone to sponsor people on visit visas irrespective of their profession. How long this would continue is something unknown, so it is a question of your luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi ExpatGuru, is this still valid news? I cant get to the arab news link page you provided in your blog. They may have taken away the news or something changed?
Secondly, i am being hired by UAE company to work in Saudi and my employer will arrange Saudi visa ( i dont know yet which one), however the thing i am more concerned about is how to bring my family and how much time it will take before i get visa for my family? It will be great if you can tell how much standard time to get Iqama for individual and then visas permits for the family.
Also family has to stay in home country to get saudi visa or they can travel to country (like UAE) and obtain Saudi visa in UAE?

Thank you
Z

Expatguru said...

Z,

Due to the recent changes in Arab News website, the link is not working. Try clicking on the 'Archives' link for 26th December, 2009 after a few days as the website says that it is currently being updated.

To answer your other queries, please fill in the form using the link given in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this which would fetch you a detailed personalized reply.

Anonymous said...

Hello Expat Guru (As everyone say) iam new reader of your blog..

Even iam in engineer working as Quality control engineer...(Building Carpenter as per Iqama)

About this news family visa linked with salary ???

I regularly go to MOI office in Jeddah as ask about this news but the people der says that this rule is not yet Started is this true???

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Unfortunately, after so much of initial excitement, nothing much has changed as no decision has been taken as yet by the authorities on this.

SIRAJ KHAN said...

hi,

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article32132.ece?comments=all

check the above link, arabnews now reports that the yearlier reported news of rule change was wrong.

Muhammad said...

Dear Friend, Assalamu alaikum bhai.
Your blog was very useful for me since i'm going to KSA for the first time for employment. I'm placed for SR3000 with 3 basic salary of accomodation. I am offered for Electrical engineers designation. My company's agent which is in India informed me that they may not be sending me thro engineer's visa due to non availability. But they will send thro drivers or operator's visa. Is it good for my future prospects to go for low catagory visa....? if even after my request for engineer or atleast technician's visa, the company says that they'll send only thro labor or drivers visa then what should i do...? please advice me.. I am very helpless.. Ur immediate response will be of great help and highly appreciable.

Anonymous said...

hello sir i appreciate your commitment to this site.i have a query.iam doctor working in moh,is that possible for me to bring my mother in law in to my depandant visa(my wife and sons are with me )who has no body other than us.pls let me know, if yes, what is the procedure?

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...

Hi expatguru.im new here in saudi and workin as dentist..is it possible for me to get my husband here? How and how long will the process be? Thank u

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.