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Demystifying the Saudi visa types
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11373
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:41 pm    Post subject: Demystifying the Saudi visa types Reply with quote

Saudi visas commonly mentioned throughout this forum include:

Business visa (AKA business visit visa)
    This visa type is for foreign businessmen, sales consultants, investors, etc. --- those visiting Saudi Arabia short term for the sole purpose of doing business. For example, Al-Wasta Industries is looking to buy the latest widgets for their factories in KSA. Wonky Widgets in the US wants Al-Wasta's business and would like to send Bob, their top salesman, to KSA to pitch the product and close the deal. For Bob's business visa application, Wonky provides a letter for the Saudi consulate in Washington, DC confirming that Bob is an employee of the company and is being sent to Al-Wasta in KSA for business on behalf of Wonky Widgets. Bob receives no income/salary from Al-Wasta because he's on Wonky's payroll. Al-Wasta is the sponsor while Wonky Widgets is the employer. Bob is a short-term visitor and not a resident. Once he's done pitching his sales presentation to Al-Wasta, his visit in KSA is over.
As I recall from a friend on a biz visa a few years back, the Saudi consulate affixes the visa as well as a stamp that states "visitor" in the passport. However, this may not be the current situation. Anyway, the above is the actual intent and target visa applicant for this visa type. Obviously, teachers don't fall in this category, but some contracting companies may use these visas to get teachers quickly into KSA and making money for the company.

Work visit visa
    This visa type is for foreigners visiting KSA for the purpose of doing some form of work on behalf of their employer. For example, Al-Wasta was impressed with Bob's sales pitch and subsequently, seals the deal with Wonky for 5000 widgets. Wonky now needs to send Larry, Curly, and Moe to Saudi Arabia to install the widgets, train Al-Wasta's employees, and monitor the units to ensure they're functioning properly. The Americans expect to stay in KSA for up to 6 months on work visit visas. Similar to Bob's visa application, Wonky provides a letter for the Saudi consulate in the US for each guy stating that they're employed by Wonky and will be visiting Al-Wasta in KSA for work purposes. The contract is between Wonky and Al-Wasta. The Saudi company provides flights, accommodations, ground transportation, and possibly daily meals for the duration of their work in KSA. However, Larry, Curly, and Moe continue to receive their pay from Wonky in their US bank accounts. As with Bob's situation, Al-Wasta is the sponsor and Wonky Widgets is their employer. Larry, Curly, and Moe are visitors and not legal residents. As such, they simply leave when their work in KSA is done.
BTW, airline pilots and flight crew members employed by non-Saudi airlines that use KSA as a hub also get this type of visa. Some Saudi companies tend to bring teachers -- independent contractors -- over on work visit visas for a short stint.

Employment visa/work visa
    This visa type is for foreigners who have contracted directly with a Saudi employer for the purpose of providing some sort of service. For example, Shazam University needs English teachers for the upcoming academic year. The university hires teachers directly but also outsources some of its staffing needs through Ali Oop Educational Services, a private for-profit company. Sheba (UK) signs on with the university while Bubba (US) is hired by Ali Oop. Since both are independent contractors and not affiliated with any company in their home countries, Sheba and Bubba go through the process to obtain employment/work visas. (Note: Before they can apply for their visas, their Saudi employers send a block visa request to the Ministry of Labor for approval. The employers each obtain a visa authorization number and an electronic power of attorney authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) Once the HR process is done in KSA, the job candidates complete the various employment visa application requirements in their home countries. Shazam U is indicated as the employer in Sheba's passport while Bubba's shows Ali Oop.

    Employment/work visas expire 90 days after issuance. During that time, Sheba and Bubba go through another, yet short, medical exam once they arrive in KSA. Shazam U and Ali Oop will then apply for their resident IDs (i.e., iqama/muqeem). The ID verifies both expats as legally employed residents, which allows them to open a Saudi bank account for payroll direct deposit and get a loan or credit card. Unlike the visitor visa types, if Sheba or Bubba wants to leave KSA for a short vacation or over a long break, he/she has to get their employer's approval for an exit/reentry visa. (Some employers allow a multiple exit/reentry visa.) If Sheba or Bubba plans to leave KSA and not return, the iqama/muqeem is turned in to the employer or at the airport upon departure.
Although it sounds worrisome to have to obtain the employer's approval to leave the country, we don't see these types of complaints from posters in this forum. That said, it's still important to research potential employers before applying or accepting an offer. Some have a rep for being sketchy stinkers.

Government visit visa
    To a much lesser extent, there's a government visit visa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only states that this visa is for "an individual to visit an (unregistered) government agency inside the Kingdom."
Whatever that means. Other posters might be familiar with the circumstances for getting this visa.
.
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siologen



Joined: 25 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 7:21 am    Post subject: re: thanks Reply with quote

Thanks NS.

This makes things much clearer, as to what to expect with each type of visa.
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psychedelicacy



Joined: 05 Oct 2013
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Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's literally impossible to contact the Saudi Embassy visa section in London either by phone or their Contact Us messaging facility on their website (the latter just doesn't work).

So I'll ask here. My job starts in September. It's convenient for me to apply for my working visa in June (degree is attested and medical/police certificate will be done and legalised by then). Can I apply for my working visa in June? Or is that too early?
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hash



Joined: 17 Dec 2014
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Location: Wadi Jinn

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 9:17 am    Post subject: Re: Demystifying the Saudi visa types Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Work visit visa
...This visa type is for foreigners visiting KSA for the purpose of doing some form of work on behalf of their employer... However, Larry, Curly, and Moe continue to receive their pay from Wonky in their US bank accounts. As with Bob's situation, Al-Wasta is the sponsor and Wonky Widgets is their employer. Larry, Curly, and Moe are visitors and not legal residents.

One could conclude here that Larry and friends will have to pay full taxes to the US IRS because they are "not legal residents (of KSA)" and/or they continue to get paid by their US employer and not a KSA employer even though they're working in KSA

Yes, one could, but that's not the whole picture. If Larry and friends can stretch out their "visit" for 330 days out of the US, they can exempt the earnings they made in KSA under the 330 days out of the US proviso of the Tax Code, even though they continue to work in KSA under a work visit visa. (In fact, they don't even have to be IN KSA for the full 330 days.....just as long as they're outside the US (somewhere....anywhere).

That is to say, income tax exemption is not dependent on the kind of visa you have.....it's dependent on where you are physically present for 330 days. (in or out of the US).

Some may argue that since Larry and friends are getting paid (in KSA) by the US employer, their salaries can't be tax exempt. This is another widely misunderstood proviso. As far as the IRS is concerned, it doesn't matter WHO pays you.....it's WHERE you performed the work that's the key. If you actually "worked" in KSA, you can be eligible for tax exemption regardless of who paid you.

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hash



Joined: 17 Dec 2014
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Location: Wadi Jinn

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

psychedelicacy wrote:
It's literally impossible to contact the Saudi Embassy visa section in London either by phone or their Contact Us messaging facility on their website (the latter just doesn't work).

So I'll ask here. My job starts in September. It's convenient for me to apply for my working visa in June (degree is attested and medical/police certificate will be done and legalised by then). Can I apply for my working visa in June? Or is that too early
?
The Holy Month of Ramadan will be in full swing in a couple of days. This will automatically bestow complete and total unpredictability into the scene. Prepare for long and agonizing waits.
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siologen



Joined: 25 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 9:52 am    Post subject: re: 1 quick question Reply with quote

Can anyone confirm or deny whether the work visit visa furnishes one with any advantages above and beyond the biz visa? If I cannot open a bank account in Saudi with a work visit visa, and cannot go over to bahrain from time to time, and need the employers permission to exit, then presumably that means for the whole 6 months duration of the work visit visa, I have to stay in the KSA? I am sure there is a provision for if I was to fail the probation period, or I had enough after 3 months and wanted to go to bahrain and then home? Hope there is someone who has experience of this, or even better has worked on the two different visa types and can clarify?

Regards on.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

psychedelicacy wrote:
My job starts in September. It's convenient for me to apply for my working visa in June (degree is attested and medical/police certificate will be done and legalised by then). Can I apply for my working visa in June? Or is that too early?

As stated above, the employment/work visa is valid 90 days from the date it was slapped into your passport. Ditto for your medical report; it has a 90-day shelf life from the date it's signed and must be submitted with your visa application packet before it hits the expiration date.

June is way too early. Be aware that your Saudi employer has 90 days to obtain your residence ID after your arrival; that paperwork has to be submitted by HR before your 90-day employment/work visa expires. Therefore, you'll need to send in your completed visa application to the embassy in the UK a few weeks to a month prior to your expected September departure in order to give your employer time to do their thing once you land in KSA.
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hash wrote:
Some may argue that since Larry and friends are getting paid (in KSA) by the US employer, their salaries can't be tax exempt. This is another widely misunderstood proviso. As far as the IRS is concerned, it doesn't matter WHO pays you.....it's WHERE you performed the work that's the key. If you actually "worked" in KSA, you can be eligible for tax exemption regardless of who paid you.

I hope this thread won't end up as another discussion about US taxes; there's already a thread for that in this forum from 2016.

You're wrong on this one. For starters, the scenario I presented for work visit visas clearly states who the employer is and that the individuals continue to get paid in US bank accounts by their US employer -- and not the Saudi sponsor. The contract is between the US employer and the Saudi client. Additionally, per the US tax code, Publication 54, the IRS requirement specifies foreign-income earners with a bona fide residence in a foreign country. Folks can look it up on the IRS website.

Anyway, this thread is about visas.
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nomad soul



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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

siologen wrote:
Can anyone confirm or deny whether the work visit visa furnishes one with any advantages above and beyond the biz visa? If I cannot open a bank account in Saudi with a work visit visa, and cannot go over to bahrain from time to time, and need the employers permission to exit, then presumably that means for the whole 6 months duration of the work visit visa, I have to stay in the KSA? I am sure there is a provision for if I was to fail the probation period, or I had enough after 3 months and wanted to go to bahrain and then home?

Uh... I guess the above explanations about the visa types weren't clear enough. Confused

In a nutshell:

- Foreigners holding any type of visit visa cannot open a Saudi bank account because their visa indicates they are visitors to KSA and not bona fide residents. So if you plan to head to KSA on a work visit visa, you'll need to discuss with your sponsor how you're to be paid.

- There is no "provision" about failing a probationary period because the Saudi Labor Law does not apply to visitors. Visitors are sponsored as opposed to employed by a Saudi entity.

- Again, visitors just head to the airport/border whenever they simply want to leave KSA -- no one's permission is needed. As for work visit visas that allow for exiting and returning, you need to ask your Saudi sponsor if you can get one with multiple exits/reentries.

Are you sure you can hack KSA? Your concerns about making it to the three-month mark point to some major ambivalence about working in the Kingdom.
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siologen



Joined: 25 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 2:05 pm    Post subject: re: thank you Reply with quote

Quote:
Uh... I guess the above explanations about the visa types weren't clear enough. Confused


Did you note the part where I had typed thank you. I mentioned they clarified things for me.

Those were some extra questions to satisfy my own personal curiosity (I know the damn thing killed the cat!), and clear up a few hypothetical "what ifs" of my own? I have not stated that I would be willing to, and I resolutely will NOT do a runner. Thanks again for the info on the visas, I would rather leave it there for now.

Regards on.
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voyagerksa



Joined: 29 Apr 2015
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

psychedelicacy wrote:
It's literally impossible to contact the Saudi Embassy visa section in London either by phone or their Contact Us messaging facility on their website (the latter just doesn't work).


First they provide the phone number and the website. Inshallah somebody will be procured to answer at the other end of the phone. Inshallah the website will actually work. Saudi planning 101 Unit 1.
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scot47



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The teacher cannot choose what visa type(s)he wants. This is up to the employer/sponsor. Attempts to extract information from the Saudi Embassy or Consulate are guaranteed to end in failure. These organisations do not act as dispeners of information.
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siologen



Joined: 25 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 8:36 pm    Post subject: re: correct! Reply with quote

Quote:
Attempts to extract information from the Saudi Embassy or Consulate are guaranteed to end in failure. These organisations do not act as dispeners of information.


I agree. Now I want to posit a question, if anyone can help with an answer it will be appreciated, as I no longer have a bank account, nor bricks or mortar in the UK, is it possible to have the salary paid in SAR in hand each month Question Has anyone had their employer do that for them in the past, or as of right now?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

siologen wrote:
As I no longer have a bank account, nor bricks or mortar in the UK, is it possible to have the salary paid in SAR in hand each month Question Has anyone had their employer do that for them in the past, or as of right now?

It depends on the sponsor. As stated above, if the job specifies a business or work visit visa, you definitely need to discuss how you're to be paid during your interview. Once you have that info, post on the forum for responses from others who have/had experience with that particular sponsoring company.

Be aware the company is not obligated to adjust their business practices to accommodate a sponsored worker's situation, nor can you rely on them being consistent in how they've paid in the past versus how they pay now.

Per my initial post about visa types, Saudi entities that hire foreign workers via a business or work visit visa are not employers; they are "sponsors" and those they hire are considered "sponsored." There is no employer-employee relationship since visitors to KSA are prohibited from receiving income from a Saudi entity. There is no legal recourse under the Saudi labor law if the sponsor decides to screw with the payment or any other provision of the work agreement. That's why these visa types carry a risk -- some biz/work visit visa holders generally don't have issues, while others run into major problems.

You might want to revisit: Sending Money Out ( and cashing checks) on a Business Visa and No Igama+No Bank Account=Problem Trans Money Trans Money.
.
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siologen



Joined: 25 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 7:03 am    Post subject: re: thanks Reply with quote

Thanks NS,

It is all clear now, I shall not ask again RE: the visa issue and money.

Regards on.
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