When traveling to Saudi Arabia, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.
As a business visitor to Saudi Arabia, you may engage in the activities below, depending on your job title. The activities performed should match the purpose of the visit used when applying for the letter of invitation. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, depending on the previously mentioned circumstances, you may:
Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Saudi Arabia to engage in business activities. Only nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states (Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the the United Arab Emirates) are eligible for visa waiver status, which allows visitors to enter and conduct business activities in Saudi Arabia. Those ineligible for a visa waiver must apply for a Business Visit Visa from a Saudi Arabian Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling. While Saudi Arabia does offer e-visas and visas on arrival, these visas are only issued for tourist purposes and cannot be used for business travel. Please verify your eligibility for a visa waiver prior to travel.
The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Saudi Arabian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Saudi Arabia, even if conducted for a short duration.
In limited circumstances, business travelers with technical job titles may engage in certain hands-on professional activities, though additional eligibility criteria may apply. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether engaging in professional activities as a business visitor is appropriate.
The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on your profession, on your duration of stay and on whether your employer has an entity in Saudi Arabia. The most common forms of work authorization for Saudi Arabia are:
Nationals from eligible GCC member states are not required to obtain work authorization in order to work in Saudi Arabia. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in Saudi Arabia.
Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.