by Expatguru - 11/28/2015
"This article gives information on the various types of visas in Saudi Arabia. It also gives information on the procedure to find out the status of your visa application."
Probably one of the first steps for expatriates planning to work in Saudi is to obtain a valid visa. Before we go into the details, let us take a look at the various types of visas issued by the kingdom.
Irrespective of the type of visa, a common factor for all of them is that you need a Saudi citizen or a Saudi business to be your sponsor. It is impossible to enter the kingdom without the consent of a sponsor. Although there are plenty of visa categories, the three most common types of visas are as follows: a) Business visa b) Visit visa c) Employment visa.
As the name suggests, business visas are issued only for short-term visits and are meant purely for business purposes. It is illegal to work while you are on a business visa. A business visa is the easiest to obtain, but to prevent misuse of this type of visa, a lot of conditions have been laid. This visa is valid typically for not more than 6 months. Since employment is banned under this visa, you would not be able to obtain an Iqama or a resident card. As mentioned in the past in these columns, without an Iqama, you would not be able to do any of the Government-related services – be it opening a bank account, obtaining a Saudi driving license or sending money home.
A visit visa is meant for closest relatives of expatriates working in the kingdom. With this visa, expatriates already in the kingdom would be able to bring their nearest family members for short-term visits. The only relatives who can be sponsored under this visa are husband / wife, children, parents and parents-in-law. You cannot bring your brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and the like into the kingdom with this visa. Visit visas are issued for a 3-month period which can be extended further by another 3 months. However, it is totally up to the immigration officer to either extend or reject your application for extension at the end of the 3rd month. Very heavy fines and imprisonment followed by deportation await those who stay illegally in the kingdom after expiry of the visit visa, hence expats bringing their loved ones on visit visas must be extremely aware of the expiry dates of the visas and get them renewed on time.
The last category, i.e., employment visa, is the one in which is issued to expatriates planning to work in the kingdom. A common question asked by potential expats is to know the status of their visa. It could take anything from 3 weeks to 2 months before a visa is issued, depending on the complexity of each case. However, in recent times, things have been made much easier to know the status of your visa application online. Just go to the website https://enjazit.com.sa/, click on the ‘English’ link and enter the required details, which would give you the exact status of your visa. In case you have a form which is still not submitted, you also have the facility to amend the same using the tab given in the link above.
Knowing your visa category is as important as getting to know the status of your application. Before you step into the kingdom, make sure that you are on the right type of visa, to avoid issues later.