by Expatguru - 12/29/2014
"This article gives an overview of how expat teachers based in Saudi Arabia, who are on single status, can sponsor their family for a short trip to the kingdom. It also highlights the latest changes to visit visa rules announced by the Saudi Government."
Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing destinations for the expatriate teaching community. Most schools / universities prefer to hire teaching couples, but there could always be situations where teachers are offered only single status. Let me now explain how such teachers could arrange a visit of their spouse / kids to the kingdom for short periods.
Unlike permanent family visas where the spouse and kids are brought in as dependents, visit visa formalities are fairly simple. The best part with visit visas is that Saudi immigration is quiet lenient when it comes to the visa profession of teachers. In case of permanent family visa, only certain categories of visa professions are entitled to bring their dependents on full-time basis. However, most categories of visa professions (except if the profession belongs to non-supervisory categories such as labor, etc.) are allowed to bring their dependents on visit visas.
The family visit visa, as it is officially called, is meant for bringing an expatriate’s parents, spouse, kids up to the age of 18 and in-laws. You cannot sponsor your brother or sister. You need to provide documents such as your resident visa (Iqama), copies of your marriage certificate translated in Arabic and attested by the Saudi embassy in your home country, passport copies of the person visiting you, certificate from the hospital in Saudi in case the female expat is pregnant and wishes to bring her parents / in-laws for help, an introduction letter from your employer in Arabic stating your position and salary, and copies of your passport. The application must be filled in online, but the supporting documents mentioned above must be submitted in person to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A few points are worth noting here. In case you are sponsoring your spouse, note that he / she is NOT supposed to work. It is strictly only for visiting. The earlier practice of people coming in on a visit visa, searching for a job in the kingdom and transferring their visit visa to a work visa has now been stopped. In fact, there is now a very stiff penalty if you work even unofficially.
According to an announcement last week by the Saudi Government’s Ministry of Interior, the validity of visit visa has now been restricted to 180 days. When you apply for a visit visa, the visitor is usually permitted to stay between one to three months. This is decided purely by the officer issuing the visa on case to case basis depending on merits. The visa can now be extended only once for the same period, and in any case the total stay should not cross 180 days henceforth.
Note that there is a severe penalty of SR 10,000 if the visitor overstays by even a single day. Not only that, the expat who has sponsored will face deportation at the end of his / her Iqama expiry, if this happens.
Dates are extremely important in the kingdom and expats must be alert and keep their documents live at all times.