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SaSaudi Arabia Visas
& Permits.






Country Capital



Saudi riyal (SR) (SAR)

If your company is planning to grow in Saudi Arabia, you’ll need a talented team of employees. It is important to know how to get work visas and residency permits for any employees who will be making the move with you, whether you’re planning to relocate existing team members or recruit new employees internationally.

Types of work visas in Saudi Arabia

Anyone who wishes to enter Saudi Arabia will require a visa, with the exception of citizens of countries that are members of The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. These members are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.

There are several types of visas  available in Saudi Arabia, among them the most common include:

  • Employment visas: For expats with an employment contract.
  • Business visit visas: For expats who want to visit the country for business and have an invitation letter from a Saudi company.
  • Family visit or residence visas: For expats that can prove a kinship with a local resident.
  • Temporary work visit visa (TWVV): Introduced in 2021, this multiple-entry visa is valid for 1 year. Employers are allowed to buy a quota and sponsor an expat. These visas can also be used for short-term work for the visa-sponsoring entity for up to 90 days.

This guide will focus on employment visas, as these are necessary for any employees staying in Saudi Arabia long term.

Requirements to obtain Saudi Arabia work visas

To obtain a visa, employees must have a sponsor in Saudi Arabia. The sponsoring employer is responsible for most of the application process, but the prospective employee will need to supply all the necessary documents.

In 2021, Saudi Arabia introduced the Professional Verification Scheme, which requires that foreign nationals working in 23 technical fields must pass an exam to prove their qualifications before receiving a visa. Currently, this applies to Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi nationals. In March 2023, Saudi Arabia announced that the program will expand to include Sri Lankan nationals. This program is likely to continue expanding to other nationalities in the future.

Employers in Saudi Arabia will need to pay for the expenses related to this program for each applicant.

The following are just some of the documents required to obtain an employment visa:

  • A passport that will be valid for the duration of employment, with at least 2 empty visa pages
  • A passport-sized photograph, in color
  • Proof of online payment of the visa fee through the Enjazit website
  • A completed visa application
  • 3 copies of a signed medical report
  • A letter of employment from the sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia and a signed employment contract, which must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi Chamber of Commerce
  • A certified copy of the applicant’s university diploma, which must be validated by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission
  • A police report of any criminal record

Application process

The employer must begin the work visa application process. Here are the necessary steps to obtain a visa and residency permit in Saudi Arabia:

  • The sponsoring employer must register with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior.
  • The Ministry will open an immigration file with information regarding all of the employer’s expatriate employees.
  • The employer will lodge an application for a work visa with the Ministry of Labor.
  • Once the application is approved, the Ministry of Labor will notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Within 2 weeks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue a Visa Authorization Number.
  • The employee will submit their employment visa application to the relevant embassy of Saudi Arabia, along with the documents listed above.
  • The embassy will issue the visa within 1 to 3 weeks, at which point the employee can travel to Saudi Arabia.
  • In Saudi Arabia, the employee must apply for a residency permit, or iqama, through the Ministry of Labor.
  • The Ministry of Labor will forward the approved application to the Ministry of Interior, where the iqama will be issued through the Directorate General for Passports.

Employees must carry their iqama at all times to prove that they are legally allowed to live and work in Saudi Arabia.

If employees want to travel in and out of Saudi Arabia during the duration of their employment, they need to apply for an Exit/Re-Entry Permit through the Ministry of Interior. This permit is generally issued within 1 week.

Other important considerations

Employees need to be aware that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have rules that need to be followed at all times. Inappropriate behavior may result in denial of entry into the country or deportation. Additionally, Islam is the only religion that may be celebrated publicly in Saudi Arabia.

If any employees plan to bring spouses or children to Saudi Arabia, they will need to obtain family visit visas.

Discover how G-P can help you manage your global teams.

At G-P, we’re committed to breaking down barriers to global business, enabling opportunity for everyone, everywhere, and helping companies tap into the fullest potential of their workforce. We help you maintain full compliance with local laws and ensure everything from hiring and onboarding to paying employees is quick and easy, regardless of where they are in the world.

Find out more about how our Global Growth Platform™ can help you grow your team across the globe.


THIS CONTENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE. You should always consult with and rely on your own legal and/or tax advisor(s). G-P does not provide legal or tax advice. The information is general and not tailored to a specific company or workforce and does not reflect G-P’s product delivery in any given jurisdiction. G-P makes no representations or warranties concerning the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of this information and shall have no liability arising out of or in connection with it, including any loss caused by use of, or reliance on, the information.

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