What is the change? Saudi Arabia has placed 19 jobs off-limits to foreign nationals, as the country continues its efforts to boost Saudi employment in its economy.

What does the change mean? Saudi Arabia will not issue work permits to foreign nationals applying for any of the 19 jobs, including positions as heads of human resource or personnel departments, employment clerks, receptionists and cashiers. Foreign nationals holding jobs now reserved for Saudi nationals will not be issued renewal work permits and may be laid off or forced to switch to new jobs.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, including renewals.
  • Who is affected: Companies employing foreign nationals in any of the 19 jobs.
  • Business impact: Companies will be required to hire Saudi nationals as heads of human resource and personnel departments, employment clerks, receptionists, cashiers and in other positions only available to Saudi nationals.

Background: Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a years’ long Saudization campaign to boost Saudi employment in the private sector of the country’s economy. The country has set up a system whereby companies employing a higher percentage of Saudi employees enjoy certain perks, such as easier visa and work permit processing. Companies with lower percentages of Saudi employees have more difficulty getting visas or work permits for employees and, in some cases, may not be able to do so at all.

Earlier this month, the Saudi government placed 19 jobs completely off-limits to foreign nationals. Jobs that landed on the list include chief human resources administrator, personnel department head, labor affairs director, employment clerk, timekeeper, receptionist (including hotel and hospital receptionists), cashier and typist.

BAL Analysis: The change to place some jobs off-limits to foreign nationals is consistent with Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost Saudi employment in the economy. Companies should be sure to adhere to the new requirements, as those who violate Saudization rules may find it more difficult, if not impossible, to recruit foreign employees when needed.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Saudi Arabia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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