Saudi Arabia traces its roots back to the earliest civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Over the centuries, the peninsula has played an important role in history as an ancient trade center and as the birthplace of Islam, one of the world’s major monotheistic religions.
Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has been astonishing.
In a few short decades, the Kingdom has turned itself from a desert nation to a modern, sophisticated state and a major player on the international stage.
Main Visa Types
The types of visas that are available include:
- Business Visa – issued for trips relating to business (requires a letter from a sponsor in Saudi Arabia), but doesn’t enable the holder to undertake any paid work or to live in the country
- Family Visit Visa – issued to family members visiting a foreign resident in the country. Proof of the relationship to the resident is required and applications can be made inside Saudi Arabia, which may require the help of an expat resident’s employer or sponsor
- Employment Visa – issued to an employee who has secured work in Saudi Arabia and has a letter from the organisation sponsoring the application. It will need to be converted into a Residence Permit (Iqama) after arriving in the country
- Residence Visa – issued to family members of a foreign employee working in Saudi Arabia or moving to do so. It will need to be converted into a Residence Permit (Iqama) after arriving in the country
- Hajj/Umrah Visa – issued for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that is attended by millions of Muslims. Also connected to this is the Umrah visa, which is for a pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of year.
- Temporary Work Visa – allows an individual, or the employee of an organisation with no presence in the Kingdom, to perform temporary work for clients there (for 30 or 90 days). The procedure to obtain the Temporary Work Visa is effectively the same as that for an Employment Visa
- Seasonal Employment Visa – designed for Muslims and non-Muslims coming to the Kingdom for work related to the annual Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) season
- Group Employment Visa – also known as a “block visa,” this visa allows a Saudi employer to process multiple visas at the same time, without having to initially identify the prospective employees