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Saudi Arabia - Visa

The movement of expats is strongly controlled Saudi Arabia, so permits and visas have strict bureaucratic procedures. Therefore, there is little to no chance for an appeal if you are denied entry. However, one upside is that expats do not have to deal with the bureaucracy. Companies, both large and small, have an employee whose job is to help international workers and their families gain work and residence visas. This person also takes the role of a guide for you when you arrive in the country.

To be eligible for entry into Saudi Arabia, you will require several passport size photos, a valid passport, a birth certificate for every family member, a medical certificate and a marriage certificate if you want to enter with your spouse, or join them in the country. Any migrant working in Saudi Arabia needs to have a certificate that indicates a clean bill of health. Tests are usually done locally, and your sponsor can advise on what is required. You will be denied entry into the country if you have any connections with Israel, such as an Israeli entry stamp or passport.

You are required to keep your identification document as well as your entry and residence visas on your person during your stay in Saudi Arabia. It is standard procedure for customs officials to do spot checks on businesses to look for illegal workers.

The country is conservative, as it strictly adheres to the Sharia law. It is the birthplace of the Islam religion, and Saudis consider this an honor which has been rewarded by the abundant natural oil resources. Ignoring the strict Islamic laws and culture in the country can get you into serious trouble.

Similarly, trying to enter the country without authorization is not advised. In fact, you will not even get past the check-in desk without proper authorization. You will be quickly and probably aggressively turned back if you arrive at any one of the land border points without authorization. It is much easier for Muslims to gain entry into the Kingdom, since visas for religious purposes (the hajj and umrah visas) are a well-administered process. Since the volume of people wishing to visit the holy places is enormous, the government has established stringent national quotas for each country.

You must be especially careful with the dates shown on the Saudi visas, which mostly conform to the Islamic calendar. If you overstay your visa by even 24 hours, you can be heavily fined and subjected to further delays.

Note that there are no shortcuts for circumventing immigration and visa application rules. Refusals and rejections can be permanent. Remember, Saudi Arabia is the only state in the Gulf where passengers, whether in transit by air or land, are required to have a transit visa.

Transit Visa

When you are changing planes at a Saudi airport and have no option but to temporarily stop in the country, you will require a 24 or 48-hour transit visa. You will be required to surrender your passport to the immigration authorities, who will then return it to you during departure.

Individuals driving to the neighboring countries of Saudi Arabia through the country are usually granted a transit visa, which is eligible for three days only. When traveling through the Saudi border, it is important that you make sure that all your papers are in order and your itinerary is clear. Check all the procedures with the Saudi consulate or embassy in your country of origin, and seek permission from the destination country. Although transit regulations are written down, you should know that they are occasionally subject to local interpretation, especially at border points, so it is essential that you are well-prepared.

To apply for a transit visa, you are required to fill an online application from the Enjaz website and then pay the application fees. In addition to filling the application, you will require a valid passport, confirmed travel itinerary, permission letter to enter the country, two passport size photographs, resident permit of your home country and a signed declaration.

Visitor Visa

The tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is low, so few tourist visas are issued. To get a visitor visa, you need to be invited by an individual or company, who will stand in as your sponsor and be responsible for you during your stay. The sponsor is the one who applies for the visa and then gets a serial number. Afterwards you will go to a Saudi embassy, where you will get a visa stamp on your passport. There is a small fee to be paid for the visa stamp. There are a few cases where a visitor visa can be changed into a residence visa while you are still in the kingdom. Unless your sponsor has plenty of clout, you are required to return to your country of domicile to wait out the official process.

It is difficult for single women to enter the country unless they are closely related to expat workers. Businesswomen often encounter problems during entry unless they are sponsored by powerful Saudi nationals or are members of a Saudi family.

Work Or Residence Visa

The process of applying for a work or residence visa is long, and can take a couple of months, with plenty of paperwork involved. Once you have a contract of employment, you are required to produce your academic or professional qualifications and full medical examination results to the consulate in your home country. You will receive a visa number, which you will submit to the Saudi embassy to get a stamped residence visa, which will become your residence permit once you get to the Kingdom. Your passport will be retained by your sponsor, although you will have to carry your residence permit everywhere.

Exit Visa

If you need to go on leave or on a business trip outside the Kingdom, your sponsor will get you an exit visa, which is often in the form of a stamp in your passport. Your residence permit will be temporarily withdrawn. If you have completed your stay or ended your contract, you will be given an exit-only stamp, and will be required to surrender your residence permit.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

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