Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Changing profession - important developments

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.






18 comments:

Tony said...

Welcome back, Expatguru! We missed you too!

Anonymous said...

I am engineer working for renowned saudi government company on labour visa. Is it possible for me approach the authorities directly for profession change? If I approach through my company, they may deny due to the fact that it reveals fault in their own system. The government may penalise the company for bringing me with the wrong profession. What is the solution for my case?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You don't have a choice. It is now mandatory and required by law. If you have all your certificates attested and ready and want to change yourself to an engineer profession, you MUST go personally. Even if your PRO goes, you MUST accompany him otherwise it would not be processed.

MOHAN P SIVAM said...

Hi!

Welcome Back. I am very happy to know that your resumed your blog.

Regards,
Mohan

Simmi said...

Welcome back

Prabaharan.M said...

WELCOME BACK.

Two years ago, I had just landed in KSA and had no clue of how things work. Thank God for your blog, I had all my queries answered even before I asked. But when you said good bye, I was worried. Now that you are back, a lot more people can receive help. I have tried for follow your foot steps and I try to provide as much information as possible to all new comers and to be new comers.

Keep the good work going. God bless

Prabaharan.M

Expatguru said...

Thanks, Tony,Mohan, Simmi, Prabaharan.

Anonymous said...

i am student by profession on my iqama. i have engineering attested degree. how much time labor office take to change profession + sponsorship tranfer? Saudi engineering council to be done before iqama transfer or after? Exactly what documents are required to change professin + sponsorship transfer? thanks in advance

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...

Welcome back Sir,

How to know our company is green/yellow or red?

Thanks
Han

appadurai said...

Meaningful advice.
I don't know the details, but this looks like how the US used to allot work visas until back in the 90's. Japan still follows a similar process.

I think this is a sign of self reliance and growth. Good for Saudis.

Expatguru said...

Thanks, Appadurai.

We'll have to wait and see whether this sign augurs well or not for expats in Saudi.

The Lonely Traveler said...

Salamwalaykumm, this is the first time I'm visting your blog and I must say, its really informative.

I have something to ask: I have a job offer in KSA in finance sector, I have not left India yet, will I get the visa and get the iqama changed before feb 22nd (accountant) or not? Is it possible to change it for my profession? Please reply.

Expatguru said...

The Lonely Traveler,

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 really like to read your blog.I have been offered a job as an electrical engineer in Riadh but they have sent me a visit visa with the promise to get it extended for maximum nine months. I like you please explain that should I ask for an Arabic copy of my contract letter or the English copy, which they have provided me, is sufficient.

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...

Hello There. I have no words to express the help you are extending to all those people who don't know where to go and whom to ask about their grievances. Your work is truly commendable and praiseworthy. I have a small query & hope you would enough time to answer. I have been in KSA for the past 2 & 1/2 Yrs and working in the capacity of procurement manager. The profession on my Iqama is Electronic Engineer but I am Graduate in commerce & computer science. I would like my profession on the Iqama to be changed to Computer Analyst as my degree also says computer science. What would be the procedure to that and also what should i do to change the profession in my passport simultaneously. Many thanks in advance for your kind support in this regard.

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.