Saudi Arabia approves special privilege residency law for foreigners
The green card style system aims to attract wealthy and highly-skilled individuals
The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday approved the new "privileged iqama" system, which will offer wealthy and highly skilled expatriates residency visas without a local sponsor or employer, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The Council of Ministers, chaired by King Salman in Jeddah, gave the green light to the scheme, which was approved by the advisory Shura council last week.
The residency will offer benefits such as freedom of movement without the need for an exit/re-entry visa, the ability to work in the private sector, own properties, recruit workers and obtain visit visas for relatives.
There will be two types of residency granted: one is unlimited and the other will be valid for a year subject to renewal.
Expatriates will have to pay a fee determined by the executive regulations, which will be developed by the Special Privilege Iqama Centre within 90 days, the Saudi Gazette reported.
Application procedures will be outlined in the regulations. The requirements include a valid passport, sufficient financial resources, a sound health report and a certificate of no criminal record.
There are more than 10 million expatriates in Saudi Arabia, comprising about 30 per cent of its population.
The UAE announced new five and 10-year visas last year for specific categories, including investors, entrepreneurs, scientific researchers, individuals with specialised skills and high-calibre students. Successful applicants will not need a national sponsor and can have full ownership of their businesses.
The government has started issuing the visas over the last few months. Eligible candidates can now apply online through the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship's website for a six-month entry permit to complete any paperwork needed to secure the visa.
Updated: May 15, 2019 02:34 PM