Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia Work Visa; Business Visas to Visit KSA

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Visas to work in Saudi Arabia

If you are going to be working in Saudi Arabia then you will need a Saudi Arabian Work visa or a Business Visa.This article will discuss the types of visas that you need as well as the various problems that you may encounter;

There are several different types of Saudi visas that you can apply for but only the work visa allows you to work within Saudi Arabia. A business visa is often procured for people to work there, but this often being misused to get around restrictions that have been placed on the company.

This hub will detail out my experiences of getting a Saudi Arabia Visa and the MANY problems that I have encountered, I have been thrown out of the Saudi Embassy in London after I was insulted by staff, had documents destroyed, been forced to pay bribes and even ended up as an illegal alien that had to be smuggled out of KSA illegally.

Saudi Visas

Saudi Work Visa

Saudi Work Visa

Saudi Business Visa

Saudi Business Visa

Types of Saudi Visa

There are 5 main types of Visa that you can apply for when looking to enter KSA for either work or just to visit;

Saudi Business Visa;

This is for business men and women working for companies outside Saudi Arabia so that they can come into the Kingdom to work with or for a Saudi company. The duration can be one, three or 6 months. It can also be used by companies to bring you into the kingdom to work on a short term contract or to try you out during your trial period, although this is not what the visa is for. Often, if a company has problems gaining a work visa due to not being able to get authorization due to employing too few local Saudis they will bring an employee on this visa.

Saudi Work Visa;

This is for those that have been offered a contract to be working in Saudi Arabia, you will require to have medicals and submit educational certificates, all of which have to be legalized. Use an agent to do this as you will have to complete a large amount of paperwork. This visa is valid for 90 days at the end of which the company has to convert it to an Iqama which is your residency and work permit to allow you to stay and work in the country.

Saudi Holiday Visa

It is available, but unless you are Muslim with family in Saudi Arabia to sponsor your visit you are unlikely to get it! They do however want to develop the tourist industry so it will be interesting to see how this develops.

Dependent visa for Saudi Arabia

This is for the family of those that have an approved work visa. Please note however that only legalized marriage will be recognized, you can't bring your girlfriend even if you have been together for 20 years.

Umrah/Haj Visa

This is for those that wish to visit to make Umrah/Haj, religious pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). This is only for Muslims and the visas are limited by number and through approved travel agents only.

Saudi Iqama

Your Iqama or residency permit has to be applied for within 90 days of your entering the country on a work visa. This entitles you to stay and work within the country for your sponsor (employer). Without an Iqama you will not be able to open bank accounts, send money out of the country or even buy a SIM card for your phone.

The application is pretty straight forward and should be done by your sponsor. You will have to undertake another medical which will be pretty straight forward. This should be paid for by your employer and will probably cost around 250 Saudi Riyals.

You will also be fingerprinted and your eyes will be scanned.

Iqama or Saudi Residency Permit

Saudi Iqama

Saudi Iqama

Saudi Azad Visa

BEWARE - There is actually no such thing as an "Azad" Visa but many people offer to sell these visas to people at a huge cost. The Azad visa is often advertised as a visa that will allow you to work freely within the kingdom, however this is far from the truth.

Scroll to Continue

To get into Saudi Arabia you need to have a sponsor (employer) who can provide you with a visa, this has prompted a small industry to rise where many Saudis will sell a visa to an expat and then allow the expat to work where ever they wish to. Often this visa will cost between 10 Thousand to 20 Thousand Riyals.

However, you are not allowed to work for anyone other than your sponsor! This means that you cannot work for anyone else legally. There is, however a thriving black market for illegal workers and many people do find work, often on lower wages and with worse conditions than those legally employed. But the government is cracking down on these practices and if you are caught then you will be sent home and there will not be any refund of the money that you have spent! This is a very risky way indeed to work within the kingdom.

Far better to just apply for jobs advertised within the kingdom, if you are hired your sponsor will pay for your visa in full and you will be fully covered by Saudi Labor Law. Avoid the Azad visa as it really is a huge risk.

  • Saudi Embassy in London UK
    This is the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, You will find all of the information you require to apply for your Saudi Arabian visa here.
  • The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Homepage US
    Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, information and requirements for your visa application.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), information regarding requirements to enter and work in Saudi Arabia, you can also track your Saudi Arabian Visa here using the visa reference number.
  • Ministry of Hajj
    Information regarding Hajj in Saudi Arabia, a handy website if you are looking to make Hajj allowing you to gain all the information for your Saudi Visa

Application for Saudi Visa

Whichever country you are coming from, read the requirements for the visa very carefully on the Saudi Arabian Embassy website in your country. On the whole you will be far better off using an agent to do the application for you and they can recommend the best places to get medical reports and so on that you will require. The agent can make sure that everything is correct rather than having it rejected by the Saudi embassy.

You will have to submit your educational certificates, all of which will need to be legalized. The process for doing so will be explained on their websites or by the agent, again, you can get the agent to do this for you, but the costs will start to mount – make sure that your employer will shoulder the expenses, as not all will!

Do not be surprised if no care is taken of your precious original certificates, my pristine, well kept degree certificate was sent between two sheets of stiff card to protect it, it was returned after having been totally screwed up and then folded in half to be returned! It is so badly damaged that it is almost unreadable in places! I have learned the hard way that many Saudis have no respect for any non-Saudis!

Get a Saudi Visa to view the Kingdom

Sunset on the Red Sea

Sunset on the Red Sea



The Reality of Applying for a Saudi Arabian Work Visa

The first time I got a visa for Saudi Arabia (KSA) in England was quite straight forward, I took all of my paperwork to the Saudi embassy in London and received it a couple of days later, no problem at all.

The Saudi Arabian visa was a business visa, good for 3 months, which was meant to keep me until they could sort out a residency visa (Iqama) for me. However, be careful, they do not tell you, you are supposed to just know, that this visa has to be stamped every month for you to remain legally in the kingdom. Failure to do so could land you in prison for a few weeks while the problem is sorted out, and believe me nothing is done quickly here!

The company that I was working for was having problems with getting work visas so I was sent home after 2 and a half months, the visa section said that I could only have 2 weeks of my last month!

Applied for my Saudi Arabian Business visa in the same way, again, no problem and was back in Saudi within a few weeks, back to work. Again visa being stamped every month. This time I was completely refused my third month, only having a week to get out (after pleading and begging!), so I had to cancel appointments and training courses that I was running which I rescheduled for about 3 weeks later. But; read on..

Visiting the Saudi Embassy

This application for a new business visa was a real experience;

I returned to England, completed my paperwork, went to the Embassy and handed it all over for processing;

This is what the conversation was like when I applied for my Saudi Arabian Visa

“You can’t give that here,” said the guy behind the counter.

“why,” I asked..

“We have changed our process, you have to use an agent.”

“Why does your website still show the old way of doing things with no mention of this?”

“I don’t know, it’s not my responsibility”

“Can you give me the name of an agent?”


“Why not?”

“You have to get it from the website”

“can’t you just give me a name or print it out for me?”


“why did you change the system?”

“because everyone was coming in the office complaining that we were late giving them visas and they were missing flights, now they complain to the agents not us.”

“How long will this take now?”

“I don’t know, maybe 10 days” (it was 2 days before)

“Now I will have to rearrange my flight, you are not making things easy for us to come to your country”

“We don’t want you shit in our country!” – He actually said this, I am not sure what my reply was, I know I was shouting and demanding to see someone in authority as the security physically carried me out!!

So, my second stay waiting for my third visa took over a month, I had to rearrange all of my appointments again, without being able to give a truly firm date! Not so good for business as you can imagine, my credibility was totally shot!

Finally returned to find that the company still could not get a Saudi Arabian residency visa and that I would be unlikely to be sure of even the second month of my business visa, clients were demanding that I resolve the issue or there would be no business with them! – Eventually I moved company so that I did not have this problem, the next company getting me a residency visa and my Iqama within a few weeks, which is what should happen, but I hear so very many many stories!

Get a Saudi Arabian Visa to see KSA

Dependant Visas

Not all jobs in Saudi allow you to bring your spouse or children (They now say that all jobs are allowed to bring their families but I still know some people who have been refused as the demand was just too great after this was announced!), check before you take the job if you will be able to bring your family before you travel or you may get a shock! Each visa declares the "job" that the person may be doing, mine stated that I was a "business analyst" (all in Arabic so you can't read it yourself), this is a professional position so I was entitled to bring my family. However some other professional types that I knew had Saudi Arabia Work visas that did not have job titles that reflected their actual position in the companies for which they worked in Saudi Arabia, these titles were often very basic and were not sufficient to allow them to bring their families!

Processing your visa application when you are in Saudi should be fairly straightforward. However not always, my friends that I know here have had no problems, I had nothing but problems – but then I found out why!

Bring your Family to Saudi Arabia

Mosque on the red sea

Mosque on the red sea

Living on a western compound in Saudi

Living on a western compound in Saudi

Problems getting a Saudi Arabian Family Visa

Most companies will have a government relations guy who will do all of the leg work with the various ministries and departments, he is the guy that usually will take your visas and so on to get them processed. Mine kept coming back with problem after problem, even though it was the same paperwork that was used for me to get my visa to come to the kingdom in the first place. This went on for a couple of months until someone suggest that I should be offering money!

I lost my temper with the government relations officer, after all the documentation was correct so why can’t he get the visa for my wife without me offering money? He was very sympathetic, but said that it may be the only way, so in the end, I had to agree to paying whatever it would take – within reason!

It cost me 4000SAR ($1067) to get the visa processed, I have no idea if the money went to my company’s relations officer or to the guy in the ministry, I have no way of knowing. But I was basically blackmailed into paying without any other options! I have heard similar stories from others, but not other westerners! It took one afternoon to process with the same paperwork that I started with! (And my degree certificate got lost!)

Arrival in Riyadh Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Visa Nightmare!

This happened to a “friend” (read between the lines); his business visa (because he didn't yet have a Saudi work visa) was not taken for monthly stamping and expired, therefore he became illegal, a colleague's family (wife and three children) were in the same situation unbeknown to them, and the husband was given some paperwork in Arabic to sign in amongst other unrelated business paperwork taking responsibility for the problem with his family! Thankfully, he asked someone else to read it all before he signed it, as you can imagine he was not too happy with the situation that the company had put him and his family in.

The problem could not be resolved, the visas could not be stamped, the advice given was to try to leave by a specific airport (Dammam) as they were not so good at checking, but if we were caught we could be jailed for 1 or 2 weeks, including my colleague’s wife and fined (Although I now know that the fine would have been the responsibility of the company!) We said no as you can imagine – and asked them to find a solution!

No real solution was available, the issue could not be resolved officially once we were illegal that was it! So we had to have a way of getting it resolved that was not through official channels.

Exit Saudi Arabia over Bridge to Bahrain

Escape from Saudi Arabia without a visa

Through a friend of a friend, we were introduced to someone who said that they could take us out of the country on a Wednesday night over the causeway bridge into Bahrain without any problem – “guaranteed”. For a small fee, of course!

So we arranged to meet this guy in the service area on the causeway before all of the different check points on the bridge about a week later.

We arrived, my colleague, his wife and three children and myself and waited over an hour for this guy, he was late, did not answer his phone and we began to think that he had decided not to turn up, but eventually he arrived an hour later than expected. His English was very poor so we had little idea as to how he was going to achieve what he was going to do!

So we followed him onto the bridge towards Bahrain, us in a large vehicle with our driver and him in a smaller one, we progressed through the first checkpoint which is to check the ownership and insurance of the car before you move to the other checks which check your personal paperwork, customs etc.

After this first checkpoint this guy and our driver swapped cars so that we now had the “fixer” as our driver now that the car ownership point had been passed. We queued for about another 30 minutes heading towards to the next checkpoint, just before the next check he turned between a group of buildings in the center of the bridge down a small alleyway and came out on the opposite side of the bridge, the road coming into Saudi from Bahrain. At this point he drove against the traffic towards the checkpoint that checks the visas of people coming into Saudi Arabia. By this time my friend's wife was having great difficulty controlling her tears due to the worry of being caught, which of course was being picked up by the three small girls in the car also!

He stopped just before the checkpoint and were joined by one of the security people from the checkpoint, at this point our passports were taken and the guy paid to have an entry stamp placed in all of our passports basically making them legal as far as a brief examination was concerned!

We then were driven back to the other side of the bridge through another small alley between the official's buildings in the center portion of the causeway, emerging just before the final check for passports and visas. My college then had to get out and get the relevant paperwork for his wife to exit from a nearby office using the newly stamped passport, marriage certificate, etc. (A woman requires the permission of her husband or father to travel within and out of Saudi Arabia!)

Again his wife spent a very tearful 20 minutes or so while he went to get the paperwork done, thankfully no problem, and we continued towards the final checkpoint!

A tense 30 seconds were spent at the checkpoint as the guard opened and checked each passport before stamping each one with the exit stamp and waved us through, what a relief! I was never so glad to arrive at a hotel and have an ice cold beer!

Visas Checked and Stamped on Bridge between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

Companies Obligations with regard to your Work Visa in Saudi Arabia

Your employer is responsible for ensuring that your visa and residency permit (Iqama) is up to date and renewed, etc. But this does not stop you from having a major problem when they fail to do their job, often it is you that will suffer not the company!

There are many cases where workers (not normally western, but Filipino, Indian etc.) who have not had their residency permits or Iqama renewed by their employers making them illegal, these workers are then afraid to leave the safety of their workplaces, many living where they work, and thus they are kept almost as a prisoner by the employer. There are several cases of workers not going for medical treatment as they are scared that they will be reported as illegal if they go to one of the hospitals for treatment!

There are reported cases of workers being held like this for as long as 20 years, often without wages!

Saudi Exit Visa

If you want to leave Saudi Arabia you need to have an Exit Visa! You cannot leave without this, this has to be granted through your company. So if your company does not want you to leave, you can't leave. Once you are in, you are at their mercy, and many maids and the like who should be able to go home each year are not allowed to leave. I have also known westerners who have had their exit visas refused as the company does not want them to leave for various reasons.

When your contract is finished, your company will issue a final exit, when you try to leave they will do a full check of your details, if you have any debts, own a car, any fines, disputes or anything you will be detained until these issues are resolved! If your wife walked through the check ahead of you when this happens, she will be going home without you, always check your exit first!

But at the end of the day, who would want to leave??

Saudi Arabia Final Exit Visa

If you are going to be leaving your current sponsor/employer and leaving the country then you will need a final exit visa for KSA.

You need to make sure that everything is clear before you try to leave the country, everything!

You must pay all of your bills, phone, power, housing etc. Keep all receipts.

If you own a car you must sell it and ensure that the name is transferred to the new owner, if it is still in your name you cannot leave! Keep copies of all of the transfer and sales documentation with you.

Check if you have any traffic fines to pay and pay them (they now have speed cameras and you may not know that you have a fine!), again keep all paperwork related to this!

Cancel and pay any credit cards, pay off loans. Keep all paperwork and receipts to prove you have done this. Ensure you do this at least a month before exit if you can.

Empty your Saudi bank accounts, transfer the money electronically if you can or send via western union or equivalent. Do this well before departure to ensure you can check that the money has arrived where it was sent.

Use cash only for the last few weeks of your stay!

When you get to the airport for final exit you will have everything checked, if something is not settled you will be refused exit until it is settled, within my small circle of friends two were refused exit, one for traffic fines and the other for the car not yet transferred into the buyer's name.

If you have family with you, consider sending them home a few days before departure so that they are not inconvenienced or shocked if you are detained! Once the stamp is in your passport, you are out, so if your wife went before you and her passport is stamped and you are refused she has to leave you behind.

More Saudi Advice

Don't even think about applying for a Saudi Visa until you realize exactly what you are going to be letting yourself in for. Working in Saudi Arabia is not like going to the next town for a job with a few new faces. The culture and way of life in KSA are completely different to anything you will have experienced anywhere else in the world.

This guide to being a Saudi Expat will help you to better understand everything you need to know before you make that decision to enter the Kingdom.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 09, 2016:

Hi Cubber

If you are there on a business visa you have no protection at all regarding your wages etc. You can however still get a phone and send wages as many places will still do so even if you only have a business visa, they certainly did for me anyway. When a Saudi company recruits they are responsible for all of the costs including your medical, however they are not recruiting you as in theory you are coming there to do business with them, not to work for them! More often than not, companies will issue business visas when they have issues getting work visas, or if they only want someone for a few months; so beware.

Cubber Cat on November 08, 2016:

First , thank you and good job this is all quite informative and helpful. After reading all this I feel like I have an idea of what to expect. I am a female sports teacher of African descent. I have been offered a job as a swimming instructor by a Saudi leisure company, they say they will pay for the air ticket, and visa fee but medical will be on me...They also said they cannot offer a work permit at the moment and will instead offer a business visa(I am so hoping that this does not mean that my visa will be indicated labor but professional as this is skilled labor). I now know that with this visa I cannot get a phone, I am paid in cash and I cannot send money. How then does one survive? keep 3 months salary in cash in the house, is internet easily available? I guess I am just looking for someone to tell me that all will be well. Who can I complain to in case of a delay in salary, or medical insurance cover? Thanks again

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 24, 2016:

I have no idea about the process for medicals; it is best that he speaks directly with his Saudi sponsor/employer to sort out the issue with his visa.

faiza on May 24, 2016:

My cousin got a job opportunity in Riyadh. He is electrical engineer having 8 years of experience in Pakistan. All his documents have been sent by company. The problem is that he is unable to get protector certificate due to a plastic surgery scar on his neck. He was burned 12 years ago in an accident and had a plastic surgery thereafter. When he go gor GCC medical examination, Dr. said to my cousin that if employer gives him NOC (no-objection certificate) then he will be allowed to go Saudi Arabia. is it still possible for my cousin to go abroad?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 15, 2016:

Hi Ayaz,

Your visa will likely be a entry/exit visa if you check. As long as it allows you to exit then you can leave; likely at your own expense. That is of course if you have your passport or if your sponsor will release it.

Ayaz Akhter on May 12, 2016:

Dear Sir,

i have a question regarding my visa. I received a work visa from my sponsor in saudi arabia to work for him which consist of 90 days, I have passed almost 1 and a half month in saudia but i want to travel back to my country (Pakistan) for some family reasons is it possible to do so? and i dont have a akama (resident card or permit ) yet?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 29, 2015:

Hi Chris,

Talk with your sponsor. many can get the visa stamped every 30 days for you without you having to leave the country. That being said however I have been ordered to leave Saudi when the visa is taken for stamping despite still having time left on the visa. This has happened on more than one occasion and caused me to quit my first job there as you cannot work as a consultant if you don't know when you are going to be there and when you are going to be forced to leave.

Chris on December 28, 2015:


If a person has a business visa with 90 days validity (Multiple Entry - 30 Days Stay). Does that mean he has to leave Saudi Arabia at the end of 30 Days and Come back again into the country. Or is there another alternative process or step that can be done to avoid traveling out of the country.



Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 20, 2015:

Hi Chuck

It is the responsibility of the company to pay all recruitment and visa expenses... Do you really want to work with a company that is asking you to pay your own? Can they afford to pay your wages? Will they pay your wages and all of your other benefits?

chuck on November 18, 2015:


My company wants me to pay for my working visa (as they say) for the sum of 6600SAR is it really necessary?

Hoping for your reply.



Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 29, 2015:

You can check the status of your Saudi Iqama by going to the ministry of foreign affairs website:

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 29, 2015:

Cman, as with a lot of things in Saudi Arabia it is not what you know but who you know and often short cuts are taken for many things. The chances are that your visa is perfectly legal but you can check through the ministry of foreign affairs as they have a page on which you can check the status of your Iqama -

Gman on September 28, 2015:

On a work visa to work in Saudi Arabia states you have to have updated shot records, police reports, and a full medical physical from your doctor or the company doctor. None of this was done. Is my visa legal ?This visa was provided by the company I work for.

Cman on September 28, 2015:

On a work visa to work in Saudi Arabia states you have to have updated shot records, physical from your doctor, police records. None of this was done. Is my visa legal that was given to me from my employer ?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 22, 2015:

All visas to Saudi are issued by the Government Jim, what is your specific question?

jim on May 22, 2015:

what about government issued visit visa's?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 17, 2015:

Hi Nick

All you can do is get in touch with your Saudi sponsor and get the visa issue sorted out with them.

nick on January 16, 2015:

Hi Mr. LeanMan

I have recived my work visa and it's mention validity is 90days and duration of stay 90days.. and i got some problem with my passport ECNR and my visa validity is over so i can not enter saudi arab? Please do let me know..



nick on January 16, 2015:

Hi Mr. LeanMan

I have recived my work visa and it's mention validity is 90days and duration of stay 90days.. and i got some problem with my passport ECNR and my visa validity is over so i can not enter saudi arab? Please do let me know..



Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 07, 2015:

Check with your sponsor Maria regarding your visa dates as they can be quite confusing. Good luck there in Saudi.

PCnair on January 07, 2015:

Thank you Mr. LeanMan. I will try with the Jawazat for the renewal of Work Visit Visa without exit/re-entry. Anyway thank you so much for your commends and suggestions...

Maria on January 05, 2015:

Hi Tony!/Leanman! I find your site very interesting! That experience you had in that Saudi nightmare was stressful just by reading it. I imagine how the family felt during those times. Good thing you found that guy. Anyways I will be working in KSA soon as a nurse and I already have my visa. However, the date in my visa was way back 02/12/14 and the validity is 90D. Would you know if I can still use this visa or do I have to get a new one? Your reply would be very much appreciated. Thank you!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 05, 2015:

Hi PCnair,

You are talking about a business visa rather than a work visa by the sounds of it. After 30 days the people should enter and return. However if you talk to the people that approved your visa and ask you may be able to find a way to have those visas stamped without exit. I know that in the past I have had similar visas stamped without exit.

PCnair on January 04, 2015:

HI Mr. LeanMan...

Our company bringing some workers under work visit visa from India to KSA next week. It is Multiple visa, validity 90 days and Duration of stay is 30 days and we are planning to keep them for 3 months. It is understood that we have to do the exit/re-entry before each 30 days. My doubt is whether we can do the visa extension without going to nearest country for exit/re-entry every 30 days? Also kindly let me know if you have any agent/travel agent in KSA? Please help by giving your comments.

Mohammed on December 30, 2014:

hi Leanman,

there are many victims like Your friend, i am getting offers from India for Saudi Arabia, I would prefer Dubai, Qatar or Oman in the middleeast who are bit cultured, atleast they would not say, "we don't want u to shit in our country". Thanks for your post god Bless you.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 15, 2014:

You will have to ask the agency what time they will take.

Al-hadzrie on December 14, 2014:

how many days waiting for processing by agency for working visa stamping?

Trefla Steriade on December 14, 2014:

Thank you for your response.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 13, 2014:

90 days from entry so 4.12.

Trefla Steriade on December 11, 2014:

Thank you for your response Lean Man.

I have to ask you another thing: the visa was issued from the embassy in my home contry on 26.11.2014 and I arrived in KSA 0n 4.12.2014. The 90 day period duration of stay starts from 26.11 or from 4.12?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 11, 2014:

Hi Trefla,

Speak to your sponsor and ask them for the specific requirements of your visa as they will know and are of course responsible for you during your stay.

Trefla Steriade on December 11, 2014:

Hello Lean Man,

I have arrived in KSA last week with a Bussines Visa which has a validity of 180 days , multiple entries, and duration of stay of 90 days. It is required for this visa to be stamped every month or to be stamped after 90 days? And where do I have to stamp it?

khanhas on November 26, 2014:

That is great Master. Thanks a lot!

Amjad Khan

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 26, 2014:

As you are only on a business visa you are not officially employed by anyone in Saudi so you can take this opportunity to network and find a new sponsor to employ you. I did this myself after spending time with one employer who kept promising to get a work visa but kept failing to deliver; I ended up working for a client on a much better salary.

With a business visa you can leave Saudi at any time as long as your passport is in your hands.

Once you are home you can then process the visa from your new sponsor.

khanhas on November 26, 2014:

Hello Lean man. Hope this will grab your kind attention. Need some advice on changing my employment now in K.S.A, from the current employer who brought me in here on a business work visa,obviously against our agreement during interview. Now they show real bossism and demand me to wait until mid next year to get me in a position I can bring in my family. I haven't signed a appointment order since I came in, and seriously thinking about finding a new employer. Do you think I am inviting trouble for me with this way of dealing with it? waiting for your kind advice...

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 24, 2014:

Hi Apaj

Anything is possible if you know the right people, however the usual route is to go back to your home country to process the visa.

apaj on September 23, 2014:

quick one for you... I'm in Saudi on business and I've been offered a job with a company out here is it possible to change my business visa to a work visa without having to go back to England and applying again?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 20, 2014:

Hi aafi

The answer is yes.

aafi on September 20, 2014:

sir kindly tell me is it possible to issue a working visa for 50+ male person?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on August 14, 2014:

Hi Tbouzidi as long as your visa says that it is an entry/exit visa then you can leave. I have known several people leave within their first month in Saudi.

Tbouzidi on August 14, 2014:


i have a work visa not yet expired, and i haven't Iqama, i need to leave the country, is it possible or i wait the exist from th employer ?


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 17, 2014:

Hi Leen33

You are in Saudi. You need your father's/Sponsor's/Husband's permission before you do anything!

Leen33 on July 17, 2014:

Yes, that is why i do not want to transfer, i will not be able to work legally etc. Thanks.

Now I have to get a letter of no objection or power of attorney from my father in UK to give me permission to marry. Apparently, I have to get it translated and stamped by UK foreign office and saudi embassy. I am 30 odd but i still need written permission. Have you heard of this before?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 16, 2014:

Hi Leen33

You can stay with your current sponsor, that is not a problem... Remember that is you do transfer sponsorship to your husband you will not be able to legally work as you can only work for your sponsor. But staying under your employees sponsorship does mean that you do what they say and that means if they decide to move you to another location or refuse you holidays there is little you can do about it.

Leen33 on July 16, 2014:

Hi LeanMan,

I like your profile pic, you seem like a really cool helpful guy!

Would you by any chance know or confirm if..... I marry in KSA as a non saudi to a non saudi... Do i have to transfer my sponsor onto the husband


I mean i have my own sponsor I was told i dont have to and then i got told i do.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 25, 2014:

Hi Sunshine, Just remember that you need the permission of your sponsor before you can leave. Without a Saudi exit visa you will not be allowed to depart. Also as a woman you cannot travel without the permission of your husband or your sponsor.

Sunshine on June 24, 2014:

Thanks for the quick response. It's a scary move to make specially with three little kids it would be tough to move back if things don't work out.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 24, 2014:

Go to the Saudi embassy website, the link is in the article. That will give you all the information you need.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 24, 2014:

Hi Sunshine

Yes you can bring your husband and children with you on a family visa. There should not be a problem with that.

Officially your husband cannot work as he is only allowed to work for his sponsor and you will be his sponsor. However it is not impossible to work illegally and there are many businesses that he could run from home without it being a problem. However if he took a job in Saudi and was sponsored by his employer you could end up with problems; I have emails from couples whose employers have transferred them to different cities and separated them from partners. Also a female teacher who has been forced to live on a single sex female compound even though she has a husband who is now unable to be with her. Just think carefully.

Saleem on June 23, 2014:

We have a Manager age above 60 Years how to apply business Visit visa and what are the requirement

Dubai - UAE

Sunshine on June 23, 2014:

Hello LeanMan,

Thanks for the information. I recently completed my MA in TESOL and I started applying for jobs in Saudi....I haven't heard from any of the jobs yet but I was wondering if my 3 children and husband will also be granted a visa? I know men can easily get visas for their wives and children but can wives also do that? I also heard that anything is possible in Saudi but what is the likelyhood of getting my family to move with me at the same time?

My husband does not have a degree so he cannot apply for a job there. He has his own business now....if he get to come with me is he allowed to a business there?

Thanks much!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 11, 2014:

Hi Jo,

You can do anything in Saudi as long as you know the right people and have the money to pay the "incentives". However the official route to get an iqama is to have a work visa through your sponsor (employer). You cannot just swap a business visa for an Iqama.

Beware of doing anything that is not strictly legal, especially if you are having to hand over large sums of money. I get messages from people that "buy" visas and iqamas and then find themselves deported straight after for working for someone other than their sponsor and other issues. Saudi is clamping down on the illegal workers in the kingdom and that means you could easily find yourself sent home or otherwise exploited if you do not have an official iqama and work for your sponsor.

jo on June 09, 2014:

hi sir i got British nationality im in Saudi now got 6 moths business visa . someone told me i can change my current visa to iqama if i can find the right person to do the work for me . any advice for me plz?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 06, 2014:

Hi Raj,

You should never pay for a visa to work in Saudi Arabia! There are many out there that will take advantage of people. Go to the labor court or ask your embassy for advice and help.

raj on June 06, 2014:

hello sir am raj come from india thru agent am pay for work visa saudi 8000 rial in india then am come thear It happen my owner change many driver last five am drive his car for last 2 month his pay me only 12 days slry only every saudi thinking other country pepple are dog sry sir i have no words for explain so many prob

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on June 02, 2014:

Hi Sansoona,

I have had business visas stamped monthly without having to leave Saudi, but once the company failed to stamp it and I had to be smuggled out of the country with a full family that had also overstayed due to the company's failures. I am not sure if the stamping was done officially or if it was done by a friend of the government relations officer as many others I know were having to leave regularly to Bahrain and Dubai. Certainly to renew my visa I had to leave the country.

Sansoona on June 01, 2014:

Hello sir,

I have been living in KSA for almost 2 years now under a family visit visa. I have to renew the visa every 3 months by leaving the country, so I travel to dammam by plane for cheaper flight and then take a bus to Bahrain to start the renewing process and then wait in Bahrain for the next bus ride to KSA. Last time we renewed the visa, we took a taxi and the driver happens to know the process well. We were able to do the process without having to get into Bahrain ...just going through some windows and stuff on the border. Are you familiar with that? If so, can you please tell me what the steps are because it was our first time and we forgot where to go and what to do and we want to go with a relative this time.

Waiting your reply...thank you!!

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 31, 2014:

Hi Fazal,

Many companies will have used their quotas for various visas or they will want to employ a foreigner in an area in which they are not allowed so they will issue the person with a visa with the wrong description. The problem is that you may end up being treated very differently and your entitlements can be very different if you are a laborer rather than an engineer. That being said I have met company general managers who have visas that say they are engineers and such like. My visa has never reflected the jobs within which I have worked.

If you can contact other people that work within the company from your country and see how they are treated; you can use linkedin to find them.

Fazal laiq on May 31, 2014:

Hello sir....

I am from india I have a degree in electrical engineering recently I gave an interview for the post of electrical engineer for MARINE FORCE CO. contractor company of MODA (ministry of defence & aviation) saudi Arabia but the problem is that they issue a helper (labour) visa instead of engineer visa is it safe to work in labour visa as an engineer. ......please suggest me what to do......if possible give information about the company.

I am waiting for your response.

My is

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 07, 2014:

Hi Imran

You start applying for jobs in Saudi Arabia - don't fall for any scams where you have to buy a visa for Saudi Arabia and then have to find work when you get there. This is illegal and many people find themselves turned back at the airport or deported soon after they arrive.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 07, 2014:

Hi Umar,

Wages offered are very much affected by the nationality of the applicant so an Indian IT graduate would likely be offered a significantly lower salary than the equivalent from the UK.. As such many companies do recruit from the cheaper countries unless they are looking for specific skills and experience or are just trying to show off that they have more westerners!

All you can do is just apply to every job that you like the look of and make sure that your resume is as tailored as possible to maximize your chances of being selected. Very best of luck.

imran on May 05, 2014:

Sir I need a visa for Saudi Arabia and I m work in Saudi Arabia

Umar on May 05, 2014:

Many thanks for your advise.

Could you also please advise on finding IT jobs in KSA? I live in UK and found it very hard to get a jobs in KSA even they can't be bothered to reply, may be its their mentality . In UK, hr department at lease let you know about the outcome of your application.

I am earning decent wages in UK but like to work in KSA for a decent company, my observation is that there are already too many south asians living in KSA who are willing to work on low wages so why companies want to hire someone from overseas unless there is really a shortage of certain skills.

I think doctors and Engineers are in high demand.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 05, 2014:

Hi Umar

In theory he should be able to, especially after being there so long. However you never know how the officials in Saudi will behave. I have had problems with gaining family visas in the past and had to pay a bribe (more like blackmail) before they would process the paperwork. So be careful.

Umar on May 05, 2014:

Hi Lean,

Thanks for your reply.

I one more question on ID card (iqama). My dad has been living there for over 40 years now, he is 65 years old no longer working, his iqama is going to expire in Aug this year. His company has asked him to do the transfer as they no longer need him.

Can my brother bring him under his sponsorship or can son become a kafeel of his father in saudi arabia? I heard that its 50/50 and it all depends on ministry.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 05, 2014:

Hi Umar,

I should think that your brother will be able to sponsor you on a family visa, nothing to lose from trying.

Umar on May 04, 2014:

Hi Lean,

How are you doing?

I born and brought up in KSA and lived there for 18 years then moved to UK.

I really enjoyed reading all of it.

I been to KSA last year when my dad sponsored me for family visa, i stayed there for 3 weeks. This year i am planning to visit them again, i was wondering if my brother can sponsor me for family visa? He is a doctor.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on April 25, 2014:

Hi Raj,

Glad to hear you have such commitment. However many of the people that go to work in Saudi Arabia are escaping poverty and will take any work that comes there way no matter how much the risk. This is why the People in Saudi Arabia can get away with exploiting them and treating them so poorly.

raj on April 25, 2014:

even if have an opportunity to earn millions of dollars , I will not go and live in Saudi Arabia .

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on March 31, 2014:

Hi Tea, as long as the initial visa is an entry / exit visa which it should be then he will be able to exit within those 90days.

tea on March 25, 2014:

Hi my husband is on a 90 day working visa. If he gets no iqama can heexit the country withaut his employers permition or will? He is working near jeddah. Please advise me as I am really worried. T

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 16, 2014:

Hi Zie,

He cannot sponsor you to visit while he is on a business visa. If his sponsor is able and willing they could issue you with a visa allowing you to join your husband.

zie on February 14, 2014:

Sir my husband already in jeddah for 2 months with business visa. The problem is how can I visiting him since he cant write to me invitation letter ( no iqama, his company based in dubai not saudi)

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on February 09, 2014:

Hi Mrs Umer,

You can get a dependent (family) visa allowing your child to enter, however you will need the permission of the child's father or male guardian.

mrs umer on February 06, 2014:

sir can a married woman get visa for saudi arabia with her child?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 20, 2014:

Hi Karen,

The employer/sponsor will provide here with a visa number. She then needs to go to the Saudi Embassy and complete all of the paperwork for her work visa (just check the website for the embassy). This can be done either from Dubai if she will be there long enough to complete it or from the Philippines.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 20, 2014:

Hershy; In most cases those visas are entry and exit.

karen on January 18, 2014:

hello ...can you help on friend is a filipina and already in dubai having a tourist visa..then one of her friend help her to find a job , but unfortunately it is in saudi arabia . she will be a domestic helper of one of the residents there ...what are the steps to do so she can go to saudi as a legal worker tnx

Hershey on January 16, 2014:

Is there a need of exit clearance if you have a dependent or visit visa

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 16, 2014:

You need the letter for your business visa which is how they will get you into the country. A business visa should be for one company doing business with another however it is usually misused in the manner you are discussing above. If you don't have a company that will provide you with a letter just "create" your own company and write your own letter.

Become "xyz consulting" and have your "company secretary" (this could be your mother, brother, pet dog, etc..) write the introduction letter for you. The headhunter will be able to tell you exactly what to put in the letter. I have done this in the past as well as submitting paperwork for a business visa without any letter at all without any problems.

elarrazabal on January 15, 2014:

One question I will be doing one last interview in KSA for this company. Considering I am unemployed in order to speed up the visa application process the headhunter has asked me to get a letter from a spanish company saying I work for them when I don´t. I have spoken with a couple of friends and they refuse to write this letter in the company's name due possible legal implications

Are there any other options to get a visa for this job interview? Should I leave the responsability to the company or the headhunter?

Thanks a lot for your help,


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on January 01, 2014:

Hi ZeeGee

Be aware that the company may attempt to recoup its recruitment costs including flights before it allows you to leave if you are leaving so quickly after arriving! I am sure that they are holding your passport so you will have a huge problem with just resigning and leaving!

If they do allow you to just leave then there is no problem with returning on a new visa.

ZeeGee on December 30, 2013:

Hi there! Thanks a lot for that useful information! Just one question regarding the final exit. I went on a final exit on October this year (2 months back) and came back with a new Labor visa (company said we will transfer it to your profession in 2 weeks). I have been working here for 6 weeks now but the company is not providing me what they promised i.e. Iqama with correct profession and family visa. So i have decided to resign and go back on final exit again. So my question is that if i leave in a months time, will i be able to come back on a new visa given my circumstances, or is it better to come on a business visa for the first 3 months?


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 04, 2013:

Hi Sugeetha,

Contact your embassy for help and talk to your fellow workers for help. You do not have to put up with poor treatment.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on December 04, 2013:

Hi AG23,

Many people start working on a business visa and this does not usually cause many problems. You may have to have your salary paid into your account in your home country although it is possible to cash a cheque using your passport as id, but your employer will likely want to hold your passport!

Sugeetha on November 30, 2013:

Hai sir, I came in saudi arabia 4 months ago in a company labour visa (2year contract). supervisors mentally torture me,so I want go for exit.

I am an indian female....please tell me the needful information

AG23 from Bangalore, India on November 26, 2013:

Hello Leanman,

My employer is in a hurry and has asked me to enter on a visit visa and also says that in the meantime the work visa process will go on. Is it good to accept this and enter on a visit visa. How will the salary and payment be done in this case as i read somewhere that if we are to receive any income, the business visa does not work. Please advice.

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on November 26, 2013:

Hi Uni1, I am not sure what you are asking, but all of your Saudi Visa expenses should be paid for by your sponsor and you should not be having to pay anything out of your own pocket.

Uni1 on November 25, 2013:

Is date of arrival in KSA not paid by the employer?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on October 13, 2013:

It would be possible to try to get as many jobs as you like but you will only be able to enter the kingdom on one visa for one sponsor.

king1 on October 11, 2013:

is it possible to seek severals employer at thesame time?for more option..tnx

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 19, 2013:

Hi Matt

You can only work for your sponsor in Saudi Arabia and as you will be their sponsor they will not be able to work for any other employer in KSA.

The only exception to this is that the government has relaxed the rules for private and international schools to hire expat wives as teachers as otherwise there would not be enough teachers in the country to run these schools. However like anything in Saudi it could change tomorrow.

Officially if your wife or child wants to work they would have to transfer their sponsorship from you to their new employer and this could cause problems. I have been contacted many times by wives who have been refused holidays at the same time as their husband, been made to move to other cities or even forced to move into female only accommodation. Also women who have had to remain employed in the kingdom alone when husbands have been sent back home. So beware having your wife transfer sponsorship away from you!

mattspatial on September 19, 2013:

Hi LeanMan,

Are family members allowed to work in KSA? I have a job contract and will be coming to Riyadh but not sure whether my wife can also work.



Tony (author) from At the Gemba on September 05, 2013:

Hi XXX, if your visa expires then you will be an illegal and your sponsor should be responsible for your repatriation and any fines if the reason for your visa expiring is his. However what usually happens is that sponsors just continue to keep their employees working until they are caught by the police or have other problems.

Talk to your sponsor and find out from them what is going on; maybe your Iqama is being processed. If you get only excuses talk to your embassy.

xxx on September 05, 2013:

As i am writing this now, my temporary work visa expires after 5 days from now and Iv not heard anything from my company. Whats gonna happen to employee if in case the company has not been able to process my Iqama?

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on July 28, 2013:

Hi Usman; you need to find a job with a reputable company that can sponsor you in Saudi Arabia, you can't just pick up a saudi visa in the street!

usman on July 27, 2013:

hi i want a saudi visa for AUTOCAD Operator

Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 27, 2013:

Hi Deep Thinker

Good luck with your new position; keep us posted as to how you get on.

Deep Thinker on May 24, 2013:

Hi LeanMan,

Thanks a bunch for responding to my message. I have finally accepted the offer. The company will be covering all expenses for any unforeseen issues related to the visa. Also they will process my family visa along with my visa so they will stay with me from start. One caveat which I still need to resolve is getting my child admitted to a good school. I understand a valid Iqama is a requirement there but I heard schools are quite relaxed on this condition as along as sponsored company provides all required reference letters.

Also no bank account could be an issue but I think I may be able to open a bank account in Dubai after I get the residency visa.


Tony (author) from At the Gemba on May 05, 2013:

Hi Deep Thinker

They obviously want you and are willing to help ensure that you are happy and secure in your work. As I have said before, I have known people that have worked long term on a Saudi Business visas with regular renewals without problems and of course others (including myself) who have had nothing but problems with them. That being said even when I had problems all of my expenses were fully covered by my employers so I had extended holidays back home without having to worry about flights etc.. If you have a base you can go to in Dubai then you will not have far to travel while things are sorted out.

Good luck; personally if the salary is worth it I would take the risk - it is also worth it just to see how people work in other parts of the world. I hope that they sort you out a work visa quickly.

Related Articles