Saudi Arabia’s plan to introduce a United States-style green card system could help the kingdom reduce remittances and also get rid of its sponsorship system, according to a local media report.
The kingdom’s plan to introduce the permanent residency plan was revealed by deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman last week.
In an interview with Bloomberg, when asked what “non-oil revenue measures” the kingdom will likely undertake to diversify the economy, he said: “We are working on a specific program similar to the green card.”
The green card system in the US authorises people to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. The employment status of a green card holder has no effect on their ability to live in the US.
Introducing such a system will help the country cut foreign remittances by up to 30 per cent, The Saudi Gazette reported, quoting unnamed sources.
“The move will help keep billions of Saudi riyals within the kingdom,” a source told the daily.
Chairman of the Federation of Labour Committees Nidal Ridwan also told the paper that the new system would help Saudi Arabia get rid of the sponsorship system.
“You know the Green Card holders enjoy all the rights US citizens enjoy except the right to nomination, election and joining the armed forces. I believe the same thing will happen in Saudi Arabia once the new system is implemented,” Ridwan said.
Economic analyst Ahmed Al-Khateeb added: “It will give an opportunity for expats having good revenue to invest in the kingdom’s businesses and real estate.
“This will help reduce foreign remittances to a great extent because of the presence of attractive investment windows within the kingdom.”
However, the permanent residency is not expected to be open to all expatriates.
Applicants would require specific academic qualifications and professional skills while investors will need sufficient capital funds, Ridwan told the paper.