What is the change? The Saudi Embassy has begun issuing uniform business visas in place of work visit and commercial visit visas.

What does the change mean? Employees applying for commercial visit or work visit visas will now receive a business visa stamped “not permitted to work.” The uniform visa will be issued pursuant to a Letter of Invitation for either a Commercial Visit Visa, permitting business activities or for a Working Visit Visa, permitting hands-on work. Holders of the new uniform business visa will not be eligible for a residence permit (Iqama).

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visit and commercial visit visas (short-term stays).
  • Who is affected: Employees traveling to Saudi Arabia for short-term business stays.
  • What’s next: The authorities may make additional announcements regarding this change.

Background: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has confirmed that Letters of Invitation for both work visit and commercial visit visas are still being issued and that the two visa types still exist, with a working visit visa still permitting hands-on work as per previous regulations. Additionally, MoFA has clarified the stamp stating “not permitted to work” denotes that holder is not eligible for an Iqama.  The authorities are still in the process of reviewing the visas, and will issue updates/clarifications in the near future.

Analysis & Comments: Employers can submit Letters of Invitation for work visit and commercial visit visas, per usual. Once the visa is issued, employees will be able to use it as they would a work visit or commercial visit visa. Please contact your immigration provider with any additional questions.

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