What is the change? Saudi Arabia will again issue block visas for two-year durations without additional fees for private sector employers.

What does the change mean? The change reverses a policy imposed in 2017 that reduced the validity period of block visas from two years to one year.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Block visas.
  • Business impact: Employers will have two years once a block visa is approved to hire a foreign employee and apply for a work visa.
  • Next steps: Employers may also cancel existing work visas and apply for new two-year visas if all conditions are still valid.

Background: In October 2017, the Ministry of Labor restricted block visas to one-year validity, citing local labor market conditions. Saudi labor authorities have taken numerous steps to encourage hiring of Saudi nationals in the private sector. The ministry grants block visas to companies seeking to sponsor foreign nationals to fill specific job titles. Companies must know the exact position to be filled when applying for a block visa. After obtaining a block visa, the company may then hire a foreign national for the job and apply for a work visa that matches the approved block visa.

Analysis & Comments: The policy eases one of the recent Saudization rules and allows employers a longer time frame to recruit expatriates employees and assign work visas.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.