Monday, February 6, 2012

Nitaqat nightmare

My earlier post (click here) on changes to Iqama profession for expatriates working in Saudi Arabia evoked such a huge response that I decided to do a follow-up post on the same.  Many concerned expats wanted to know about the status of their companies, whether they were in the red or yellow categories.

Before going into the details, a small recap. As already mentioned, companies in Saudi Arabia have been categorized into Green, Yellow and Red depending on the level of Saudization carried out. There is also a so-called "excellent" category above the green category, but this is of not much concern to expatriates in Saudi Arabia, so let's forget it for the moment. Those companies with the least Saudization, i.e., red category are in really big trouble. The iqamas of expatriates working in these companies are not being renewed after 26th November, 2011. Even though officially denied by the Government, most expats in these companies are even afraid to go on vacation in the fear that their exit/reentry visas would be converted into exit visas at the airport by the immigration. There is no smoke without fire, they say, so the suspicion is that there might have indeed been some cases which have happened this way. There is no way to confirm this, though. With a system so opaque, one cannot but sympathize with these people.


Time has been given until 22nd February, 2012 for employees in the red category and yellow category to find themselves jobs in the green or excellent cateogories. Expatriates have been waived from getting clearance from their current sponsors in red category to move over to jobs in the green range. Sadly, companies employing 9 persons or less do not fall under Nitaqat program so people working in these firms still need a release or NOC from their sponsors to move into better jobs. Those employees in the red category who are unfortunate not to find suitable jobs in the green category would be forcibly be given Exit along with their families upon expiry of their iqamas. In other words, they have time to look out for a job in the green category until their iqama expiry.


People in the yellow category are only slightly better off than those in the red category. Until 22nd February, 2012, these companies must convert themselves into green category, i.e., they must improve their Saudization levels substantially. In case of failure to do so, i.e., if they are still in the yellow category, employees working in these companies have the option of finding themselves jobs in green category without any kind of approval from their current sponsors. However, for those who continue with their current sponsors, their iqamas would be renewed only if they have put in less than 6 years stay. If not, it is curtains for these people and Exit would be stamped on their passports.


I would like to caution expatriates who are transferring themselves from the red and yellow to green categories, who have unresolved disputes with their current sponsors. You have to necessarily follow all procedures just as in any normal case with the sole exception that you do not need the consent of your current sponsor (applicable for yellow category from 23rd February, 2012 and for all in the red category). Take a look at my previous post for reference (click here). Note that you MUST definitely file your claim with the Ministry of Labor within 6 months from the date of your transfer to green category. Failure to do so with forfeit any future claims you may have. Also note that you CANNOT go on exit/reentry or be sent on exit within the first 6 months of your transfer to green category, unless and until your new sponsor has a written confirmation from your previous sponsor in red / yellow category that there are no claims against you from the previous contract. Somehow, I get a sick feeling of expats being held like a dog on a long leash!


Now comes the most crucial question on how to find out which category a particular company is in? It is quite pathetic that leave alone moving into green category, expatriates do not even have access to the basic information of their company's 'color'. A saving grace is the website of the Saudi Ministry of Labor. Click on this link, but before that keep someone beside you who can read Arabic because this web page, so important for expatriates, is completely in Arabic. Some customer service!

Type your iqama number in the space provided and click on the 'Submit' button. Your name along with your company's category should appear in Arabic. Again, please note that this is applicable for expatriates whose companies have a minimum of 10 workers or more. I really feel sorry for the large majority of unskilled expatriate workers, who do not even have access to internet. Where is the promised sms service which was supposed to provide instant information about an expatriate's category? I would like to appeal to readers to support these poor guys and pass on information about their company status, lest they are sent on final exit one fine day without even knowing the reason. 


The coming days are going to be very crucial and would decide the fate of several expatriates working in Saudi Arabia.

14 comments:

immi said...

I need to know can we transfer our iqama from Green Category company to a company which is having less than 10 employees in it.

Expatguru said...

immi,

This is a very interesting query. Of course, you can transfer provided your current company is willing to release your visa. There are certain conditions attached. Note that once you transfer to the company with less than 10 employees, the red, yellow and green category of Nitaqat no longer applies.

Chetan said...

Hi Can you plz email me on chetan.kothari21@gmail.com or help me with your email ID, i have some questions related to Saudi visas.

Expatguru said...

Chetan,

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...

SMS to know your company's status

By JEDDAH: GALAL FAKKAR ARAB NEWS STAFF
Published: Mar 11, 2012 23:17 Updated: Mar 11, 2012 23:17
The Labor Ministry yesterday announced a new service for expatriates who want to find out about their companies’ Nitaqat status.
Human resource experts said expatriates would benefit from the ministry’s move. Sharief Hussein Al-Hubaili, an HR expert, said it would enable companies to know whether they are in the red, yellow, green or premium categories according to the Nitaqat system, which measures an organization's compliance with Saudization targets.
“The new service avoids the possibility of incorrect assumptions about a company’s situation or having to go to the ministry or labor office,” he explained.
“It will also protect foreign workers from falling victim to unscrupulous liaison officers who exploit the situation by trying to con them,” he added.
Expatriates will be able to understand their companies’ Nitaqat status by sending an SMS containing the characters 44* followed by the iqama number to STC No. 888996, Mobily 626666, or Zain 709446. They can also obtain the same information from the ministry’s website: www.mol.gov.sa.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,


Thank you for your useful update.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

May you help me since i have some problems that need to be solve. What should i do to bring my daughter who is 21 years old in Saudi Arabia? I don't quite understand the new system that just operated not long ago. Just to make sure, is it true that if my children below 21 years old have to make their visiting visa at www.Visa.mofa.gov.sa but if they are above 21 years old, i have to make their visiting visa at ISTAQDAM office.

By the way, I had sent SMS to the Galal Fakkar Arab News Staff to know my NItaqat status and received a reply back that said i had an excellent Nitaqat status. Aren't i suppose to receive the color categories which are red, yellow, green or premium? i don't understand what's the meaning of excellent. Is it in green categories or premium?...

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, is that any possible way to change my sponsor who is in RED category to a company of GREEN without any letter from my current sponsor?

Expatguru said...

Yes

Anonymous said...

I am working as an expertise teacher in Indian embassy school .is their any problem to work in the schoolin husbands visa

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You must immediately stop working or you are liable to be arrested, fined very heavily and deported following imprisonment.

edrix tamala said...

Have a good day. I was just 2 months now working here in Jeddah as mechanical maintenance engineer as provided by my employer to register to SCE. I have already submit all the documents and CAV attested in my country Philippines. my employer paid at first 500 SR then second time 1800 SR abut after 2 days I received rejection on my workspace and they send me through SMS says that I have to upload copy of bachelors degree certificate as diploma provided? what does it mean? Actually, I have graduated in Mindanao state university in the Philippines as a 3 year course with Diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology. I am also a board passer earned license of certified plant mechanic by the Professional regulation commission in the Philippines. but this are the document have not yet submit to SCE my license as certified plant mechanic and certificate of good standing as a member of Philippine society of mechanical engineers. Sir, can you suggest me on how to fix this all and what to do. Thanks and best regards..

Expatguru said...

Edrix,

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 and confidential reply by email.