Saudi to grant ‘instant’ visas for expats

The service is only open to private sector companies that meet strict nationalisation quotas



Private sector firms in Saudi Arabia can now get “instant visas” for expatriate workers, provided they meet workforce nationalisation rates, local media reported.

The service, being offered by the ministry of Labour and Social Development, is only open to green-coded firms in the kingdom’s nitaqat nationalisation programme.

The nitaqat programme seeks to increase the number of Saudis in the labour market, especially the private sector, and divides firms into four categories based on their compliance – platinum, green (which has three-sub categories), yellow and red.

The ministry has specified that only companies that fall under the medium green category (or above) for 13 consecutive weeks or 26 intermittent weeks during the past 52 weeks will be eligible to apply for the new visas.

Companies must also have a valid work permit and must be in full compliance with the wage protection programme.

Private firms that adhere with the required regulations will no longer have to wait for the eight months previously required to obtain visas for their foreign workers, the ministry said.

Through its recently launched qiwa platform, the ministry aims to make a quantum leap in the labor market with ensuring an enhanced efficiency of all sectors.

Eligible employers can now register for the service via the qiwa online platform, which was launched earlier this year by the ministry to combine all the country’s employment services under one system.

Qiwa also aims to provide officials with information to tackle business challenges facing employers and employees, and achieve the Vision 2030 goal of reducing the country’s unemployment rate to 7 per cent.