Saudi Arabia has extended the duration of stay for the country’s new short-term work visas.

Key Points: 

  • Under a change announced on the Qiwa online portal, visa holders can now work in Saudi Arabia for an initial period of six months and have their visas extended for a “similar period” one additional time.
  • When the visas were first launched earlier this year, it was expected that foreign nationals would be permitted to work for up to 90 days in a one-year period.
  • Employers can purchase visa quotas on the Qiwa portal. To be eligible, employers must:
    • Have a valid commercial registration.
    • Have a Nitaqat status of “Medium Green” or higher.
    • Ensure that all foreign workers have valid work permits.
    • Demonstrate they have a sufficient balance to pay for the temporary visa.
  • Eligible employers can purchase quotas in packages of one, five, 10 or 50. One quota costs 1,000 SAR; a package of 50 costs 45,000 SAR.
  • Visas are valid for one year from the date on which the quota is purchased. Payment will not be refunded after 30 days, including in cases where the visa is issued but the visa holder never travels to Saudi Arabia. Visas are nontransferable from company to company, but unused visas can be canceled and reallocated within a company.

Analysis & Comments: The increased duration is welcome news that will give eligible employers additional flexibility when bringing foreign nationals to Saudi Arabia for short-term assignments. While visa quotas are now available, visa stickers may be difficult to obtain at this time because of COVID-19 entry restrictions. Employers needing to bring foreign nationals to Saudi Arabia for short-term work are encouraged to work closely with Deloitte to determine their best options.

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