Friday, August 22, 2014

New rules for sponsorship transfer

Each time a new set of rules are announced in the kingdom, the expectations of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are raised with the fond hope that things would change for the better, only to come crashing down like nine pins. This time too is no exception.


After the 'color-coding' of sponsors was completed (which classified them into red, yellow or green zones),  a series of rules were announced by the Saudi Government which made drastic changes to the original Nitaqat scheme (click here to read them). Despite all the negative press and hype in that scheme, a few good things emerged for expats working in Saudi Arabia. Until that point of time, expats were stuck to a particular sponsor with no way out. The new rules announced then offered a ray of hope. Those expats who were under yellow or red category sponsors could freely change their sponsorship to green category companies. And this did not need the permission of their original sponsors. Such was the unbelievable mad rush of expats to change their sponsors which just proved how harassed these people were under their original sponsors.

There was also a rule that if the sponsor did not provide a valid residence permit (Iqama) within 3 months of an expatriate arriving in the kingdom, the employee had a right to change his sponsorship. So, the practice of seizing the employees' passports and not even applying for an Iqama had effectively come to a halt.

Sadly, all of this is now going to change. In a deeply retrograde step, the Ministry of Labor has now announced new rules for sponsorship transfer which truly negates whatever little progress was achieved earlier.

As per the new rules, if any expatriate files an application for sponsorship transfer from red and yellow companies, the sponsors of those companies can file an objection within five days with the Ministry of Labor. In effect, once the objection is filed the expat can no longer work elsewhere until his case is resolved. Which could take literally years together. But wait, this is not all.

Sponsorship transfer is not possible by runaway workers. So, this five day period is just enough time to alert such sponsors to go and file a 'Huroob' (absconder) report in the Ministry of Labor. And that's all - it would be end of story for those workers dreaming of a better future with another sponsor.

We are not done yet. The rules also say that if an expatriate's passport has expired, he would not be able to apply for sponsorship transfer. It is common knowledge that the original passport is required for renewal by embassies. And who seizes the passports the moment an expatriate lands into the kingdom? So, by the new rules, a sponsor need not even file an absconder report with the Ministry now. He can simply hold his employees' passports forever which would automatically serve two purposes:

a) the employee cannot apply for a new passport when it expires and so cannot apply for sponsorship change

b) the employee cannot even leave the kingdom because he does not have his passport and also does not have an exit stamp on it

The pity is that the Ministry considers the above changes necessary "to protect the interests of both sponsors and workers". How much more shameless can one get when it is so apparent that these new rules protect the interests of only the sponsors?

So, by a simple change in the rules, the kingdom has gone back by several decades. Some reform. Which is no wonder that there is such a shortage of skilled manpower since nobody wants to come and work in paradise.


18 comments:

Lorgen Shadoufang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sir,
Good day.
What if the employee reached 5 year on his company, is there any chance that a employee can asked for a release on his previous company and look for a better employers?
Reply...

aftab said...

hello,

Your helping people in one of the best way in Saudi, well i want to ask you that am i eligible to get visit visa for my father and mother and younger brother if my iqama profession is computer programmer(mubarmij hasab aali) and is this profession good?? if not which profession is good as i am working as a document controller...kindly reply asap.

Expatguru said...

Aftab,

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.

Mohamed Idrees said...

Dear sir,
I am working as a civil Engineer in riyadh. I am a diploma holder.i am working in one of Electrical projects construction company.i found my visa category in iqama as "Fanni kharabhai thamthithath".(i dont know meaning) now i am preparing to bring my family by visit and i have processed my certificate embassy attestation.after my attestation process, i am planning to change as Residential visa for family.
So, please guide me and if any problem by my visa category - how to solve and how can i keep my family by visit or by Residential .

Thanks for your valuable and useful guidence.

MOHAMED IDREES - RIYADH

Expatguru said...

Idrees,

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.

Steven said...

I bet you'd like a dollar (or Riyale) for every person who has asked for free advice without looking at the query box on the right of the screen! :-) You are performing a remarkable service Sir, and I commend you.

Expatguru said...

Absolutely, Steven. Some people don't understand that I spend time and effort for personalized consultany which needs to be compensated.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that your passport is not actually owned by you, the bearer of the passport, but by your country. So, for me, my passport is actually owned by the government of the United States of America. I have been told (on an email list dealing with working in China) that if an employer will not return your passport, you should go to your embassy, since they are the owners. If an employer won't return your passport to your embassy, I imagine that that could create a problem for the employer.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You are technically correct but realistically wrong! Fact is that passports of all expatriates ARE in the possession of the sponsors and unless and until they agree to let you go, it is impossible for you to leave the kingdom even on an emergency or short vacation. The fig leaf excuse used by employers is that their employees may otherwise abandon them and flee somewhere else, typical of a medieval mindset. This is a price to pay if you want to work in Saudi Arabia, but do ponder whether it is really worth it.

abraham said...

dear guru
my wife is doctor.. i am also ...due to some situation i came under my wife s iqama as muraqib..now i would like transfer my visa to one of the famous hospital...but the MOL system is not accepting ... i ask labour office people...they said ..we r unaware ...someone said ...i cannot transfer my visa..bcoz muraqib are nor allowed insted wife could..what is the procedure to transfer my visa..hospital is ready to issue visa for me...if i want go back n com..but i hate that idea..plz ...give some advice..thank you....thank you ur service

Expatguru said...

Abraham,

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.

abraham said...

ok ...but i dont have paypal..but i have visa ..shall i transfer through that..

Expatguru said...

Abraham,

You do not need to give me your credit card number. Please sign up for Paypal through www.paypal.com. This is free of cost. Paypal is a secure site and is used by millions of people around the world everyday. Please follow the steps mentioned in the link at the top right corner of this blog for detailed procedure. Once you make the payment to Paypal, they will immediately inform me and within 24 hours I will send you my reply to your Inbox. Unfortunately, due to online security reasons, I do not accept any other form of payment.

Anonymous said...

SALEEM ,
I had transfered my free visa to a company for a contract period of 1 year , as i am completing the contract period , whether i am eligible to take back my visa , if yes , which article number in labour law is applicable for this .

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 and confidential reply by email.

rohit said...

Dear guru,
Is it possible for you to post the answers for the above queries since you have already sent the respective persons with their answers. If so for all other queries as well.

Expatguru said...

Rohit,

Due to the flood of emails I receive each day, I started charging a nominal fee for my consultancy services. This is not to make money, but to filter out the genuine queries from those who ask just for the heck of it, as well as to check spam choking my Inbox.

Information given here is free to read. But if you need a reply to specific questions, please post your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. You will get a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email within 24 hours.