Residence permit in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a great choice for foreigners to start a business and start racking up profits. Nevertheless, for them to enter Saudi Arabia, they need a visa to stay in the country for short periods. However, if they want to immigrate, they need to obtain an Iqama to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, an Iqama will grant foreigners in Saudi Arabia several rights.

In this article, we will go over the general information you need to know regarding the Saudi residence permit. Therefore, you will understand the essentials of migrating to Saudi Arabia. We will observe:

  1. What is an Iqama, how can you get it, and why is it important?
  2. Types of residence permits/Iqama
  3. Changing regulations related to foreign workers
  4. Why should you apply for an Iqama and move to Saudi Arabia?
  5. How can we help you apply for an Iqama and obtain it?

What is an Iqama, how can you get it, and why is it important?


Also known as a Saudi residence permit, a Saudi Iqama is, essentially, the Saudi Arabian residency card. Many foreigners interested in moving into this country need an Iqama to be able to immigrate. However, Saudi Arabia is severely stern regarding which foreigners can and cannot work in the country. Mainly, to be able to work in KSA, the foreigner must first obtain a local sponsor. 

The employer or sponsor that you obtain will apply and secure both the Saudi Iqama and the work permit. Thanks to this, the foreigner can migrate and work legally in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, there are some limitations since the foreign employee can only work for the duration of the validity of the Saudi Arabia Iqama.

You need to take into consideration that you can obtain several types of residence permits in Saudi Arabia, for example, a residence permit for family members. The main ones are the temporary ones while others can be renewed and allow a foreigner to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. Usually, an Iqama is issued to ex-pats arriving at the KSA with an employment visa. Moreover, the time listed on the permit is currently set at 1 year at private companies with an option to renew.

Lastly, if an employee wants to check their Iqama validity and see when it expires can check their validity status on the Ministry of Interior´s website. For them to be able to do it, the foreigner needs their Iqama number to use this service. This way, a foreigner will always be able to check and ensure their Saudi residence permit´s validity in the KSA. 

Why is it important?

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest percentages of foreigners migrating to Saudi Arabia. For instance, in 2016, its population included around 11.7 million non-nationals. Moreover, out of 13.8 million employees in Saudi Arabia, only approximately 3 million are local nationals. Simply put, foreigners hired by Saudi companies make up more than 3 quarters of the workforce in all of Saudi Arabia. 

Precisely because of this reason, the government has really strict requirements on whether or not a foreigner can become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, these requirements are related to immigration and labor policy compliance. In summary, since foreigners serve an important role in Saudi Arabia, employers play a pivotal role in the procedure to obtain a Saudi residence permit.

How to apply for an Iqama in Saudi Arabia 

Firstly, to apply for an Iqama to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia, you need your sponsoring company to complete the Block Visa application. Once they complete it, they must submit it to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Afterward, this entity will establish a particular quota for the number of visas that it will issue. Moreover, this entity issues a permit to the company to sponsor a foreigner for long durations (up to 1 year) and is subject to renewal.

In addition to this, when you apply for a Saudi residence permit, the Ministry of Labor bases the approval on several factors such as:

  • The role of the job they are getting sponsored for.
  • The nationality of the applicant.
  • Country of origin of the applicant.
  • Academic history of the applicant.
  • The relation between the job role and the academic qualifications.

Once the visa is approved, the sponsor company gets a Visa Authorization number. Moreover, they also get a PoA (Power of Attorney) via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

If the visa is approved, the host company then obtains a Visa Authorization number, as well as a Power of Attorney, issued through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As for the employee, they need to undergo a medical exam and receive a medical certificate from a medical center that has been approved. Afterward, they need to submit it with the work visa application to the Saudi Diplomatic Mission in the origin country. 

What to do after the work visa is approved

Once the Saudi government approves your work visa application, you have permission to enter the country. Nevertheless, within 90 days, the foreigner must submit an application for the work permit as well as the Saudi Arabia Iqama.

On the other hand, if you need to exit and re-enter Saudi Arabia while the Saudi residence permit and the Iqama are authorized, you need to obtain a permit for it from the Ministry of Interior.

Lastly, you need to take into consideration that, in Saudi Arabia, your employers are liable for all the fees related to the work permit and Iqama. Additionally, they also are responsible for paying the repatriation ticket fees if the foreigner stops working at the company. 

Financial Requirements to Become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia

Lastly, you need to remember that there are some financial requirements you need to fulfill to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. The premium residency scheme implies meeting the following financial conditions: 

  • The temporary renewable Saudi residence permit costs approximately SAR 100.000.
  • The permanent renewable Saudi residence permit costs approximately SAR 800.000.

Types of residence permits/Iqama

Even though the prospect of becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia is good for foreigners, you still need to remember that there are several types of residence permits. Mainly, there are 2 types of residence permits, these are:

Temporary Saudi residence permit

As its name implies, this Saudi Arabia Iqama is perfect for a foreigner that needs to live in Saudi Arabia for the duration of the employment agreement. The worker is entitled to it, meaning that the permit is issued alongside the work visa on a temporary agreement. Furthermore, when obtaining this Saudi Arabia Iqama by opening a business, the sponsor will be the one in charge of completing the procedure.

Premium Saudi residence permit

On the other hand, a foreigner that wants to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia can apply for a permanent/premium residence permit. For this, Saudi Arabia has recently opened a premium residence visa program. Under this program, you must fulfill specific conditions. There are 2 options under this scheme for those interested in becoming a permanent residents:

  • The renewable temporary residency.
  • The permanent residencies permit. 

Moreover, to apply for them, the foreigner in question must meet the eligibility criteria. The foreigner must have:

  1. At least 21 years old at the time they file and apply for the visa. 
  2. A valid passport and a clean criminal record.
  3. Financial stability to live in Saudi Arabia.
  4. Something that proves their health and fitness. This is mandatory to be allowed into the Saudi residence permit program.

Simply put, the main advantage of this program is that the Ministry of Foreigner Affairs oversees it. This means that it attracts investors, entrepreneurs, and other highly skilled migrants. This means that it is not meant for wealthy individuals. Additionally, people that already lived in Saudi Arabia for a short amount of time can have better chances of obtaining a residence permit in Saudi Arabia. This is thanks to the fact that they are used to the culture and language of the country.

Lastly, if you decide to apply for a Saudi Arabia Iqama by opening a business, you can contact us. Our agents specialize in company formation in Saudi Arabia, which means that they can help you with its incorporation.

Changing regulations related to foreign workers

Moreover, several regulations constantly change for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia. If an individual is interested in becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia, they need to be wary of these regulations. Saudi Arabia implemented the Saudi Vision 2030 plan that wants to achieve the following goals: 

  • Reduce the dependency on oil in Saudi Arabia.
  • Diversify the Saudi economy.
  • Develop jobs for the public sector.
  • Support the small and medium businesses in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the KSA implemented 2017 a new tax applicable to foreign residents. This law is somewhat unclear for a foreigner wanting to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. This law is unclear as to who should pay the fee. This means that employers are the ones that decide if they are going to cover the cost or pass it on to their employees.

Because of these taxes, levies, and regulations, several ex-pats left Saudi Arabia already. Moreover, many foreigners that want to start migrating to Saudi Arabia decided not to do so after seeing these changes. For instance, after the new taxes, more than 94k ex-pat workers left Saudi Arabia in the year 2017. The main reason is that most industries do not pay these fees. 

Why should you apply for an Iqama and move to Saudi Arabia?

After knowing everything about becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia, you might wonder why you should move to Saudi Arabia.  There are several reasons why you should consider migrating to this country other than just the good economy. The main 8 reasons why ex-pats immigrate to Saudi Arabia are: 


Individuals widely consider this the main reason to move to the country and become a permanent residents in Saudi Arabia. Simply put, the financial prospects in Saudi Arabia are one of the best in all of the Middle East. For instance, the main incentive is that, in Saudi Arabia, salaries are tax-free. In other countries, you can expect to pay up to 40 to 50% of taxes worth of your earnings and salaries. 

Simply put, in Saudi Arabia it is easy to save money as well as make a profit with regular jobs. In addition to this, the salaries are higher in other parts of the world. 


Overseas work is good for your Curriculum Vitae, meaning that working in Saudi Arabia is good for this reason. With the experience you gain, you can showcase your ability to work in other cultures and do business in other places. Migrating to Saudi Arabia allows you to expand your CV and make it more appealing to employers in Saudi Arabia and other countries. 

Saudi Arabia is one of the hardest places to do business or to obtain a Saudi Arabia Iqama by opening a business. However, it is quite rewarding since employers sometimes even search actively for that with big interests. 


As simple as this reason seems, Saudi Arabia has great weather for a foreigner that wants to become a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, it has generous sunlight all year round. This means that, even if it is too hot in some months, you can enjoy the weather every other month. Even in the hot months, you can manage them with air-conditioning. 


Saudi Arabia can proudly announce that it has a high standard of living and a low cost for it. For example, you can commonly see ex-pats allow themselves to enlist the services of drivers, maids, gardeners, etc. 

Whether or not you can allow yourself this kind of life depends on your personal preferences. Nevertheless, it still is an option to choose from if you desire it. 


Getting further from business-related options, Saudi Arabia has several top-level destinations that you can travel to. These destinations are so desired that some foreigners even obtain a tourist visa to be able to visit the country. While you are living here, you can take your free time to visit several places such as the Kingdom Centre Tower, the Great Mosque of Mecca, Al-Balad, the Red Sea Mall, etc. 


Getting even further away from business-related options, Saudi Arabia also provides a good shopping experience for ex-pats. New malls open regularly in the country, offering big brands and a modern retail experience to all of their customers. This is one of the main reasons why an individual becomes a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia.

Food and drink

Going hand to hand with the shopping experience, you can enjoy a high-quality dining experience if you obtain a residence permit in Saudi Arabia. Eating out is a cultural experience, with several offers ranging from affordable to luxurious options. In addition to this, Saudi Arabian cuisine is widely regarded as rich, flavorful, and one of the best in the Middle East. 


Lastly, the culture is another big reason why ex-pats prefer migrating to Saudi Arabia. An ex-pat that is a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia can experience the local culture as well as learn about Saudi hospitality. Thanks to this, foreigners can observe just how welcoming and friendly Saudi locals can be. Simply put, Saudi Arabia is diverse in its landscapes, its cultures, and traditions.

How can we help you apply for an Iqama and obtain one?

A Saudi residence permit is perfect for foreigners that want to immigrate to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, we provide our services to individuals that want to seek guidance and support.

With our professional team and our services, you can receive guidance related to being a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, we also have 24/7 customer support as well as other solution tailored for you.

If you are interested in becoming a permanent resident in Saudi Arabia, you can contact us. Our best lawyers will always be at your disposal to help, guide, and support you through the immigration procedures. Also, you can enjoy the following solutions:

Contact us and let us help you successfully obtain a permanent residence permit in Saudi Arabia. If you want to obtain help and support with Saudi Iqama procedures or other services, email us at or call us at +971 58 515 8876. Once you contact us, you will speak to our professionals who will be at your disposal to answer every query you may have. 

Is sending job applications an exhaustive process for you? Let us change that. On, you will find an extensive variety of job offers in your field of expertise. Do not waste time and send your CV and cover letter to The best recruiters in the Middle East are waiting for you.

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