As Deadline Nears, Saudi Arabia Cracks Down on Foreign Workers

17 Oct 13

SAUDI ARABIA

IMPACT – High

What are the changes? Saudi Arabia is threatening to deport foreign workers whose visas are not in order beginning next month.

  • Implementation timeframe: Nov. 4, 2013.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residency permits.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals on work visas.
  • Impact on processing times: No impact.
  • Business impact: No immediate impact.
  • Next steps: Make sure all work visas are in order.

Background: Facing double-digit unemployment of its own citizens, Saudi Arabia launched a localization reform in 2011 that includes pledges by companies renewing contracts to hire locals and fines for companies that do not meet quotas. After allowing a grace period of seven months, the Labor Ministry will resume the clampdown on Nov. 4. The Ministry is also reportedly checking inconsistencies between information on a foreign national’s work visa and the place of employment or profession listed on his or her residency permit.

BAL analysis: The unprecedented sweep means employers must verify all visas of foreign workers or face deportation of workers or possible fines. Companies should expect unannounced on-site visits, as the Ministry has trained inspection teams to fan out into offices and streets in search of visa violations. Foreign nationals who hire non-Saudi domestic workers should also make sure those visas are valid.

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

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