Saudi Arabia caps family visit visas at 6 months

5 Feb 15

SAUDI ARABIA

IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Saudi Arabia has shortened the maximum amount of time relatives can stay in Saudi Arabia on family visit visas to six months. Family members were previously allowed to stay up to nine months.

What does the change mean? Visiting family members will be issued a single six-month visa that cannot be extended or renewed. Previously, they were given an initial three-month visa that could be renewed twice.

  • Implementation timeframe: The changes were implemented Feb. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Family visit visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals working in Saudi Arabia and their family members.
  • Impact on processing times: The usual processing time of two to three weeks should not be affected; but the elimination of extension applications may slightly improve processing.

Background: The change came into effect when Saudi Arabia launched an online system for family visit visas Feb. 1. The new system was implemented to prevent overcrowding from those applying to extend visas at Jawazat offices. Information entered into the online system must exactly match personal information as it appears on the foreign employee’s residence permit, in Saudi Arabia’s civil registry, and on family members’ passports.

BAL Analysis: Foreign employees should be aware of the new nonrenewable six-month limit on family visit visas. Extensions are only possible for medical emergencies, pregnancies or other valid reasons. If family members overstay the term, they are subject to fines of 10,000 Saudi riyals (about US$2,664) and the sponsor will not be allowed to apply for a family visit visa again.

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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