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Getting a dependent's (permanent) visa

 
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Getting a dependent's (permanent) visa Reply with quote

Today I flew in the face of the demons of caution and got my wife the piece of paper that allows her to apply for her dependent visa.

As there's been a fair bit of scaremongering about taking on the hordes of the Saudi beauracracy on your own, I thought I'd post about how straightforward it was in the hope that others might get some direction and encouragement from it. It was a lot more straightforward than I was led to believe when I first landed on this forum about a year ago.

The process took me about two weeks and cost me SAR2000. It would have been quicker but I have a day job Wink

At the outset, I'll declare that I am British, graduated from a British University (with a distance learning Master's) and was married in the UK to a British wife. I can't guarantee that the process will work with any variation on this any more than to say that I have friends who have also successfully done this on their own with the following situations:
    Canadian married to a Canadian
    Irish married to a Thai
    British married to a Japanese
    US cititizen married to a Thai

The process involves two stages
    Getting the paperwork together
    Taking the paperwork to the visa office

Getting the paperwork together
I had my contractor (Al Hoty) do this for me. They were great and handled the whole thing for no fees whatsoever. The Irish friend I mentioned did the whole thing in a couple of days himself. I didn't have any need to rush and let the contractor handle it. It took them about 10 working days. You need the following:
    Your original degree certificate (mine was not attested as many claim (e.g. SACM and Harley Medic in London) it needs to be. It may be that a US certificate might not make it past this stage or it may be that you get some guy who wants to make your life difficult on the day. My guy barely looked at my original cert.)
    Your original marriage certificate (although I had a certified copy issued from the UK which worked with no problems. This was not attested either.)
    Official Arabic translations of the two above certificates
    A copy of your wife's passport page
    Copies of your passport page and your Saudi visa page (I took my passport but he just handed it straight back to me. MIght be worth taking just in case though)
    Copy of your iqama (as well as the original)
    A letter of introduction in Arabic from your company. This should be have the chamber of commerce stamp on it. Mine had my wife's maiden name on it.
    The official application form in Arabic with your wife's name as shown in her passport on it.

A receipt for the payment is worth having although turned out not to be necessary. The payment of SAR2000 needs to be done electronically before you go to the office through a bank. I bank with SABB and used an ATM government fees payment option. This didn't work and when it came to it, the visa office had no record of payment. This was the only issue I had in the whole process. It was resolved by a quick phone call to my contractor who made the payment online and two minutes later it showed on the visa office system. So, from my experience, I suggest you get your company to make the payment for you as they'll know exactly how to do this successfully.

Also, make sure that your names are spelled exactly the same on every form in Arabic. This goes for you and all your dependents. I have heard of people being rejected if even one character differs on any one form. For yourself, make sure that your name is identical to your iqama spelling.

Taking the paperwork to the visa office
The office you need to go to is called Istiqdam and is probably going to show up on Google map search of your city. I went to the office in Dammam.

You don't necessarily need to get there early but it can help in case you run into problems and want to avoid the regular prayer time breaks from midday onwards. I arrived at 4:30 am and was finished by 8:30am, 30 mins after the office started processing applicants.

At Dammam there is a piece of paper taped to the outside of the office. From 4am people sign their names up there in a list. This is supposed to be the order they go into the building but on the day I went, there was a mass scrum of people trying to get in at 6am when they opened the office. The security guard taking names lost his rag with everyone and tore the list to shreds in front of everyone. So, it's worth getting there early AND lining up even though you might stand there for an hour or so waiting for the office to open. But at Dammam they apparently process about 100 applicants a day, so even if you are at the back of the queue you will probably be seen in reasonable time.

Once in at 6am, the guard checks your application form and invitation letter. If these are okay, he writes your queue number on the form. You are then free until 8am when the processing windows open. Many people use this as an opportunity to grab breakfast locally. If your number is in the fifties, for example, you could probably come back at more like 9am. Don't miss your slot though!

There was plenty of comfortable seating to wait in (although take note that no bags are allowed in the waiting room for some reason). There's a passable toilet if you need it too. So, with a good book, the time flew by until they started calling numbers. There were three windows open and they took about 5-7 mins per applicant so got through them pretty quickly.

If you encounter a problem that is solvable on the day (e.g. my payment issue mentioned above) they'll let you go and sort it out and then jump back into the same booth to continue processing. This is very encouraging. The whole process was very speedy and calm and the official who dealt with me spoke good English and was very patient when we encountered the payment issue, explaining exactly what the issue was and suggesting how to resolve it.

If everything is in order, you literally spend five mins at the window before receiving the yellow sheet of paper with your dependent'/s' name/s on it. You should check that this has their names spelled correctly before you leave the office. Mine states that my wife will apply in London for the visa. This is in Arabic. I assume that if you have special circumstances and your wife etc. need to apply at an embassy that is not straightforward you check that this location is the one you expect it to be.

The yellow sheet is valid for a year. I was told by my colleagues that when your dependent applies for their visa, they don't actually need the original but actually just the number on it. Personally, I'll be taking mine back on leave soon for my wife to take to the visa agent in London. If I was in a hurry, I'd send her a colour scan to get printed in colour. This should suffice.

All in all, a very painless process with a very achievable outcome. No guarantees that it will be for you too, but my experience and that of the friends I mentioned above indicates that it could well be.

Feel free to PM me if you need info specifically about Dammam. I'd be happy to help you out.
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river nile



Joined: 11 Mar 2014
Posts: 15
Location: South East England

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks sicklyman,
One of the most useful posts I've seen in this forum.
When u been to the visa office in Dammam, did speak in English or someone helped u (interpreting ) or u did it yourself by speaking Arabic?
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MsRT



Joined: 25 Nov 2013
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much sicklyman, very useful indeed.
When you say permanent, how long would the iqamah last for? As long as you work, right?

Sorry for the daft question, just checking!
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes, the visa office in Dammam had people who spoke very good English although not everyone did.

the process I went through is just the starting point. Once you get the yellow paper, your dependents can get visas in their passports. Once they do that and then arrive in Saudi, you help them get iqamas.

As you are their official sponsor, they can only be here as long as you retain an iqama. Like any iqama, theirs must be renewed each year. Buy they have the right to permanently reside in Saudi rather than leave after 90 days as with a visit visa. Like you also, they will need to get multi-entry visas to come and go while their iqama is valid.
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Jcray21



Joined: 09 Feb 2014
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife will likely get a visa through my company so she can work here as well. However I need to do this for my son. Does anyone know what needs to be done for a child? Are there any required immunizations? As my wife has decided to wait until he is older to get any so he has had none at 2 years old so far.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12097
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done. I hope your missus enjoys her stay.
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks scot47... counting the days!
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nabz1236 wrote:
So far I have had my Degree certificate and Marriage certificate attested/legalised as required. I did this through the visa agency BCS in London.

They have advised me I don't need to have my CELTA certificate attested or legalised. Is this correct?

I can't say with 100% certainty but I'd assume that your degree would be enough. I had an MA and a DELTA and they took the MA, not the DELTA.

Nabz1236 wrote:
Also they have told me I don't need my degree or marriage certificate translated into Arabic. I see your post says this is required? Where would I get this done? Also I take it the Arabic translated copies don't need any legalisation etc?

No, you definitely need Arabic translations. Plus the names on the translations much match EXACTLY the names on other Arabic paperwork for your dependents. You can find translation offices in lots of backstreets in any Saudi city but your employer should be able to arrange this for you as they will have translators that they use regularly for all sorts of other documentation.

I don't think that the Arabic translations need any form of legalisation. But I'm not the best person to ask as none of my documents were legalised at all.

Nabz1236 wrote:
Company have told me I cannot bring my wife over till I have passed 3 months probation.

So I had a plan to bring my wife over on a visit visa initially once I had my Iqama issued in Saudi. But apparently to also allow this the Company need to authorise the application for even a family visit visa. They will not allow this till after 3 months have passed.

So I guess there is no other way around getting my wife there any earlier than 3 months.

You are right. You just have to hang tight for three months. It may actually be longer depending on how efficient your company is with the paperwork you are trying to arrange and whether there are any mistakes made along the way (like an office with all your paperwork burning down!)

Nabz1236 wrote:
am I right in saying you can only sponsor family relatives for a visit visa not just anyone?

that's correct as far as I know... The marriage cert makes proving your wife is your wife quite easy, but I'm not sure how you go about proving relationships such as mother-in-law or sister or nephew.
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