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Saudi Arabia now facilitates the settlement of skilled foreign workers

Skilled foreign workers wishing to settle and work in Saudi Arabia will now be able to do so without the need for a local sponsor.

The Saudi government has just approved the “Privileged Iqama” residency program, which allows expatriates to live and work in the kingdom without the need for a local sponsor (Kafeel) for a first application. However, this new residency program is only available to highly qualified expatriates and fund owners based in Saudi Arabia.

A manoeuvre included in the Vision 2030 plan

Until then, every foreigner wishing to set up and operate in Saudi Arabia had to request a “kafeel”, literally a protector or guarantor vis-à-vis the Saudi authorities. The latter is generally the employer of the foreign resident. As such, he is in charge of the procedures to allow his arrival on Saudi territory, or even his family’s arrival on Saudi territory as part of a family reunion. He or she may also choose to keep his or her passport and request authorization each time his or her foreign employee wishes to leave the territory.

The new residence system – commonly known as the Saudi “green card” – was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman almost three years ago as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan to open the kingdom and diversify its economy.