Essential Employment Paperwork in Saudi Arabia



A visa is a compulsory requirement for all foreign nationals who wish to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Expats that are bound to this famous country should make sure that they get a visa approval during their first application since those who have been denied by immigration have slim chances for reconsideration. 

Though this oil and gas rich nation has the capability to provide thriving employment opportunities, the number of expatriates that it granted with the permission to work has recently declined mainly because of the strict implementation of the ‘quota system’. Since November of 2012, employers in the Desert Kingdom have been subject to hefty fines if they choose to hire more expatriates rather than Saudi nationals. The Ministry of Labour also launched the ‘Nitaqat System’ or also known as the Saudization whereas locally based companies are legally required to prioritise Saudi nationals when it comes to filling up their workforce. 

Due to those reasons, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been stricter than ever when it comes to the entry and movement of foreign nationals. Everyone, with the exception of the citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC are required to secure both a work permit and visa before seeking employment in Saudi. Without these two documents, it will be quite impossible to get a job in this country. 

Work Permit 

A work permit is a highly essential document that every expat must have before flying in to Saudi Arabia for employment purposes. It must be obtained by their future employer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after getting permission to hire a foreign national from the Ministry of Labour. The expatriate’s future employer will play a great role because aside from processing the permit on his behalf, the company will also serve as his sponsor or guardian during the whole duration of his stay in this country. 

Iqama or Work Visa 

In Saudi Arabia, work visas particularly for expatriates who have been offered managerial positions are arranged by agents or private consultants that represent Saudi employers across the globe. Though a majority of companies in Saudi have agents that will provide significant assistance during the application process, expats are still required to personally appear at the Embassy/Consular of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their home country and bring the requirements listed below: 

  • Passport that is valid for at least six months
  • At least three passport-sized photos
  • Copy of the Employment Contract
  • Original Letter from employer sponsoring the expat. Letter must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Saudi Chamber of Commerce
  • Educational Certificates of the expat (must be notarised in his country of residence)
  • Three copies of the expatriate’s medical report indicating that he is free from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • A Police Clearance or Certificate of No Criminal Record issued within the last six months