You like it or you don't, but you just can't ignore it. So goes the saying. I guess this is equally applicable to the Kingdom. So much has been happening here and sadly, not so much information about it easily available. It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have resumed writing in your favorite blog! Missed you all these days!
One of the most important issues bugging the minds of expatriates is the visa profession. I had mentioned in my earlier post (click here to view the same) the method for changing your profession in the iqama. For those visiting this blog recently, the logical question would be why would anyone want to do that? Simply put, it is because your actual job title is not the same as what is mentioned in your iqama and if your iqama title falls under the "prohibited" category, then you wouldn't be able to bring your family into the kingdom.
I have had mails from several expatriates mentioning at length their actual job title and how they have salaries comfortable enough to sponsor their families in the kingdom. Unfortunately, working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge if you don't adapt and acclamatize yourself. To top it all, most of the information doesn't come officially and it is only after some one actually goes through the process that he learns by experience. Ask me, I have been a desert camel for over 14 years and still continuing !
After the Saudi Government announced the Nitaqat program (which took effect from November 26, 2011), it is an understatement to say that turmoil has hit several expatriates. To make the long story short, companies are now classified under three different colors - red, yellow and green, depending on the level of Saudization. If a company falls under 'Green' category, it means that there are enough Saudis in that company and there is no restriction on hiring expatriates. If a company is 'Yellow', it still falls under danger zone, but is given time until February 23, 2012 to convert itself to 'Green'. Finally, if a company is in 'Red' category, no expat can be hired by that company nor would visas of existing expats be extended.
The important point question here is, what happens to the expats working in 'Red' and 'Yellow' category companies? The Labor Ministry has announced that expats in these companies can transfer their visas to 'Green' category companies without even requiring an NOC or release from their existing companies. How effective this has been, is another question. I have been flooded with requests from several expatriates on this one singular issue. Many have their iqamas expiring soon and are now in a fix. Their sponsors would not allow them to work elsewhere (despite whatever is written on paper) while the Government would not renew their visas.
There is a new twist to this drama. As soon as the Nitaqat program was announced, the Labor Ministry told that expatriates in the red and yellow category companies could get their iqama professions changed, subject to meeting some conditions. The rush to do so has been tremendous and now the Government has extended the deadline until February 22, 2012. After this date, profession change in the iqama would be allowed only for those employees working in the Green category. So, virtually it is a now-or-never for thousands of those expatriates working in red and yellow category companies.
Some restrictions apply even for specialized professions. For example, if you want to change your profession to "Engineer", you need to personally go to the Labor Ministry with your original (and attested) degree certificate. Similarly, if you are in Medical profession and want to change your profession to a "Doctor" or a "Nurse", you need to go personally and show your official license for personal verification.
What about other professions? Well, at the moment this is a big question. It again depends on what your qualifications are and to which profession you want to change to. I will keep you updated on all developments here. In the meantime, do keep visiting this blog as usual.