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Residence Permit in Saudi Arabia

Residence Permit in Saudi Arabia

Foreign citizens who enter Saudi Arabia for various purposes need to obtain a visa if they want to stay here for short periods of time. Those who want to live here longer must obtain a residence permit in Saudi Arabia. Also known as the Saudi iqama, this document grants a foreign citizen various rights. If you are interested in becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia, our lawyers are at your disposal with several services that enable you to relocate here as soon as possible. We are a team made of lawyers and company formation officers in Saudi Arabia who can provide various services to foreign citizens and investors.

 Quick Facts  
Temporary residence permit types

– temporary (iqama) and permanent residence permits,

– residence permits for dependents,

– work visas

Time needed to obtain the temporary residence permit (approx.)

It takes around 1 to 3 weeks to obtain a temporary residence permit in Saudi Arabia.

Temporary residence permit validity

Saudi iqamas are valid for up to one year.
Documents for obtaining temporary residence

– application form,

– valid passport,

– documents proving the reason of relocation,

– health certificate,

– proof of sufficient funds to sustain oneself during the stay 

Special temporary residency program availability

The premium residency scheme

Dependents can join the temporary permit holder (Yes/No)

Yes, it is possible to move with close family members (spouse and children).

 Temporary or permanent residency for investment purposes

The investor visa

Type of investments available for residency purposes

Business investment and lump sum payment.

Minimum investment amount

SAR100,000 (approx. USD27,000)

Minimum temporary residence before applying for permanent residence One year through the premium residence permit.
 Residency for individuals married to a citizen of the country

5 years

Documents for obtaining permanent residence

– valid passport,

– valid Saudi iqama,

– clean criminal record,

– health certificate,

– proof of solvency

Naturalization requirements

Living in Saudi Arabia for 5 consecutive years.

Citizenship after permanent residence

5 years

Dual citizenship permitted (Yes/No)

No, dual citizenship is not permitted in Saudi Arabia.

Types of residence permits in Saudi Arabia

Foreign citizens interested in applying for the Saudi Arabia iqama must know that there are two types of residence permits they can enter the country:

  • the temporary residence permit;
  • the permanent residence permit.

It is not hard to obtain a Saudi residence permit in 2024, as most of the procedures can now be completed online no matter the country of residence of the applicant, including with the help of our immigration lawyers in Saudi Arabia.

We remind you that if you want to open a company in Saudi Arabia, our local consultants are at your service. This is one of the safest ways of obtaining a Saudi iqama.

Block visa approval before getting Saudi residency

There are several stages to complete when applying for a Saudi Iqama. The first one implies getting approval from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in relation to the sponsoring employer’s request for a block visa (an application through which multiple visas are issued for several employees at once). It must be noted that residence permits are issued based on a preestablished number each year. According to these quotas, which the Ministry of Labor and Social Development sets, local companies may sponsor foreign workers in order to secure long-term employment. They are given depending on a variety of criteria, such as:

  • the country of origin of the applicant and nationality;
  • the specific job duties.

Following acceptance, the sponsoring employer must file with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a visa authorization number and power of attorney, allowing the company to apply for a work visa on behalf of the employees. In this step, the enterprise can submit a work permit application to the relevant Saudi diplomatic mission in the nation where the worker resides.

The procedure of securing a residence permit for Saudi Arabia can be complicated which is why you can rely on our PRO services that are created for purposes like this one.

Here is also an infographic on how to obtain Saudi residency:

The temporary residence permit in Saudi Arabia

A foreign citizen who has obtained a job contract with a local company is entitled to obtain a residence permit in Saudi Arabia for the duration of the employment agreement. This means that the permit will be issued alongside the work visa on a temporary basis.

When obtaining a 2024 Saudi Arabia iqama based on employment, most of the procedures will be completed by the company hiring foreign citizens.

If you have obtained an employment contract and need assistance in immigration to Saudi Arabia based on it, our specialists can help you.

The premium residence permit in Saudi Arabia for 2024

A foreign national who wants to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia has the recently enabled premium residence visa program under which specific conditions must be met, but it also comes with several benefits.

There are two options for those interested in the Saudi iqama under the premium residence visa scheme:

  • the first one is the renewable temporary residency;
  • the second one is permanent residency.

In order to apply for any of them, a foreign person must meet certain eligibility criteria. These are:

  1. the applicant must be at least 21 years old at the time he/she files for the visa;
  2. the person must have a valid passport, as well as a clean criminal record;
  3. another condition is for the applicant to be financially stable;
  4. proof of being healthy and fit is mandatory in order to be allowed into the program.

If you are interested in a Saudi residence permit under this program, our consultants can offer specific information about its requirements.

The main advantage of the program which is overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that it was created to attract investors, entrepreneurs, and highly skilled migrants, therefore it is not meant for wealthy individuals. However, people who have lived in the KSA before can have better chances of obtaining a permanent residence permit in Saudi Arabia thanks to the fact that they are used to the culture and language here.

If you decide on immigration to Saudi Arabia by applying for a Saudi Arabia iqama by opening a business in 2024, our agents who specialize in company formation can help with its incorporation.

Companies in all sectors of activity can benefit from our accounting services. Our accountants in Saudi Arabia are up-to-date about most recent tax rules and are aware of which bookkeeping methods and technologies are most effective for your company because we focus on all industries. Feel free to contact us for tailored accounting support and advice.

Financial requirements for becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia in 2024

As mentioned above, the Saudi iqama under the premium residency scheme implies meeting certain financial conditions. These are:

  • temporary renewable residency is available for a minimum investment of approximately 27,000 USD or 100,000 SAR;
  • permanent residency is available for a minimum investment of approximately 213,000 USD or 800,000 SAR.

You can rely on our local specialists if you are interested in this program.

Fees and taxes to consider for a residence permit in Saudi Arabia

Iqama visas cost SAR 650 (approx. USD 175) per year. According to Saudi legislation, the employer is responsible for paying all fees and taxes for a foreigner’s work permit and Iqama. If the person leaves their job, the employer is also responsible for paying repatriation fees.

The monthly price for acquiring a work permit must also be considered in addition to the annual Iqama fee. The employer is responsible for paying the SAR 800 (approx. USD 220) monthly charge for obtaining a work permit.

A dependent fee of SAR 400 (approx. USD 100) per month is charged to foreign employees having dependent family members listed on their Iqama. Saudi legislation leaves it up to the employer to decide whether they will cover the expense or require the sponsor or foreign worker to pay it.

In addition, if an employee’s Saudi Iqama is lost or expires without being renewed, the sponsoring employer could be held financially responsible.

New work visa regulations

As of 2024, Saudi Arabia has tightened the requirements for granting work permits to foreign employees. The government has set a broad age limit of 22 to 60 years old for foreign workers who seek to work in the Kingdom as of 2024. This age range establishes a ceiling to support local employment while simultaneously guaranteeing that foreign workers meet a specific standard of maturity and experience.

These new regulations allow Saudi residents, foreign spouses of Saudi men, their mothers, and those with Saudi premium permits to apply for visas in order to hire domestic workers abroad. These regulations were put in place to manage the local labor sector.

Why apply for a Saudi Arabia iqama?

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and one of the largest economies in the world. With an economy that relies mainly on the extraction of oil and gas, moving here implies optimum development conditions for both entrepreneurs and employees.

Here are the main statistics on Saudi Arabia’s population:

  • at the level of 2023, the country had a total population of 36.947 million inhabitants;
  • this means a 1.48% increase compared to the previous year when the population accounted for 36.408 million people;

Saudi Arabia strictly controls the movement of expatriates, therefore permits and visas have rigorous administrative requirements. The absence of bureaucracy for foreigners is an advantage, though. An employee who assists foreign workers and their families in obtaining employment and residency permits works for businesses of all sizes. When you arrive in the nation, this person will also serve as your guide. You will need a 24- or 48-hour transit visa if you have no choice but to make a brief stopover in Saudi Arabia while changing flights there.

Benefits after securing the Saudi Iqama

Here are the main advantages you will have after obtaining a Saudi residence permit:

  • you will be able to operate a company in accordance with foreign investment regulations;
  • you will benefit from the freedom to exit and entry to Saudi Arabia without a visa;
  • you will be allowed to apply for visitor visas for family members.

Here is also a video on this subject:

How can our Saudi lawyers help you apply for residency

For a foreign resident planning immigration to Saudi Arabia as an employee or any other purpose, obtaining an Iqama and/or a work permit takes time and needs a lot of paperwork. Employers are required to start the application process and provide the required papers. Sometimes it can take months to finish this process.

The Saudi Ministry of Labor’s Saudization policy, which prioritizes hiring Saudis whenever possible, may also require the employer to demonstrate that no Saudi citizens are available to fill the position. This is why, before engaging in the entire process, it is advisable to request advice from a specialist. Our lawyers can help you by making sure that each step of the process is duly taken and the documents are in order.

If you are interested in applying for a residence permit in Saudi Arabia in 2024 and need guidance, do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers in Saudi Arabia.