Saudi Arabia Residence Permit
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Guide on how to apply for a Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

Are you planning to settle in Saudia Arabia for a while? You will need a Saudi Arabia Residence Permit to do so. It does not matter if you are going there for work, study, or other purposes. You need a residence permit if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

Saudi Arabia (or KSA; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is a country in a region of Western Asia known as “The Middle East.” It is trendy for its desert terrain and surplus supply of oil. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman originally proposed the concept of the Saudi residency program in 2016 as a part of his strategy to lessen the nation’s reliance on oil and increase direct investment from abroad. Now, Saudi Arabia has received tens of thousands of applications for premium residence permits from more than fifty nations.

We’ll go over all the specifics of the Saudi Arabia residence permit in this post, including its requirements, benefits, duration, cost, and application process.

About the Saudi Arabia Residence Permit?

2019 saw the inauguration of the premium residency program in Saudi Arabia. By awarding them a Saudi Arabia residence permit, the premium residency program enables foreigners to live in Saudi Arabia without the requirement for sponsorship. Previously, foreigners or expatriates could only move to Saudi Arabia to work if a Saudi company sponsored them. But thanks to this new residency program, the story has changed.

You, as a foreigner, can now live and work in Saudi Arabia for an unlimited period without a sponsor, thanks to the country’s residence permit program, which is especially beneficial for skilled professionals and investors. While the residency permit does not confer citizenship on you, having one has several advantages.

Benefits of Having a Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

The Saudi Arabia residence permit grants you, as a holder, some rights and benefits. They include;

  • Rights to live freely in the country.
  • Rights to sponsor a family member’s residency and travel arrangements.
  • Permission to possess property and a personal car.
  • Permission to recruit foreign workers, invest in domestic firms and work in private organizations.
  • Freedom to leave and enter Saudi Arabia as you please without a sponsor’s consent.

Eligibility For a Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

The Saudi Arabian government offers two types of residencies to expatriates; permanent and renewable temporary residency. To be eligible for any of these programs, you must meet the following standards;

  • Be 21 years old or older.
  • Hold a current, valid passport.
  • Be in good financial standing and have no prior convictions.
  • For permanent residency, you must have resided in the KSA for a time before becoming a permanent resident.

Note that this program favors skilled employees like entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, and rich people willing to invest in the country; however, it isn’t limited to them. In addition, you don’t need a Saudi Arabia residence permit if you are only visiting Arabia; that is if you’re there on a tourist visa or any other short-stay visa.

Requirements for Saudi Arabia residence permit

To obtain a Saudi Arabia residence permit, you have to submit the documents listed below:

#1. Passport:

One of the things you must present is an original national passport to identify you as a citizen of your country. It must have at least two blank visa pages and a validity of at least six months. Additionally, the passport has to be in excellent shape and machine-readable.

#2. Visa Recommendation Document:

Visa Recommendation Document is simply another way to say “invitation letter.” You can get it from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs or one of its Jeddah or Dammam-based divisions. They will list both the visa number and the date on the document. The letter of invitation must be sent at least six weeks before the day the visa application is due.

#3. Proof of Relationship:

If your spouse or child accompanies you in your application, you must present proof of relationship through legal/civil certificates. In addition, when traveling with a spouse, you must provide an original marriage license, authorized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or validated by the Saudi Arabian Embassy. In addition, when applying with a dependent who isn’t your spouse (child, ward, etc.), you must provide their original birth certificate and proof of adoption (if the child is adopted). Furthermore, the FCO must validate this document.

Before issuing the Saudi Arabia Residence Permit, the Ministry of Labor will also need to confirm the following;

  • If the accompanying child is a daughter, she is single and no older than 18 years old.
  • A copy of your passport information pages, the residence stamp, and the application.

#4. Medical report:

You must present three copies of a medical report from a licensed doctor attesting to your health, stating that you are clear of any contagious illnesses. The doctor must sign each copy of the report and include their office address and license number. The medical report must consist of three passport-size, colored photographs with a white backdrop and all of the lab reports. A medical report cannot be older than three months from the day it was issued. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office must also certify the medical report. You don’t need an official medical report for children under 16.

#5. Criminal Record Certificate:

Next, you need a police clearance certificate to verify that you have no criminal background. The FCO must validate the police clearance certificate if you acquired it in the UK. It cannot be older than one month. Otherwise, the Saudi embassy will have to certify it.

#6. Passport Size Photographs:

You must submit two passport-sized color photos that are 35mm by 45mm and are no more than three months old. Your head should be evident from the front, with your face positioned in the center. Print the photo on high-quality picture paper. You cannot have glasses or headgear in the photograph for religious purposes. Do not staple or tape the photos to the application form.

#7. Visa Application Form:

The visa application form must be filled out accurately with the required information. A few guidelines for filling out the application form are:

  • Only make use of black ink.
  • Use block letters to complete the form.
  • Applicants must complete the form by hand.
  • Don’t do any handwriting alteration or use corrective fluid.
  • Fill out all sections completely.

#8. E-Number Application Form:

One completed and original signed E-Number application form, printed on two A4 pages with the back side left blank, must also be presented. You cannot retrieve or revise any application until the ministry has completed processing. Hence, ensure you fill out their application with the utmost care.

For minors (under 18), the parent or legal guardian must write a notarized letter that they can submit if they are traveling alone or with just one parent.

Types of the Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

There are two major categories of the premium residency visa issued by the Saudi Arabian government. They are:

  • The SP1 Category: Foreign nationals may permanently live in the country with this residence permit.
  • The SP2 Category: This category is a restricted premium residence visa, renewable annually.

How to Apply for the Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

The process of applying for a Saudi Arabian residence permit is relatively straightforward once the required documents have been gathered. We can break down the application process into three simple steps;

  1. Fill out the application form appropriately, providing the necessary details as previously pointed out.
  2. Submit the form with all the required documents to the embassy of Saudi Arabia or the ministry of foreign affairs.
  3. Wait for the ministry to approve your application, then go and receive your residence permit.

Cost of the Saudi Arabia Residence Permit

The cost of a Saudi Arabia residence permit varies based on the category. For example, after meeting the prerequisites, the SP1 category requires a one-time payment of SAR 800,000 ($213,000), whereas the SP2 category requires an annual charge of SAR 100,000 ($26,665.24).

Duration of the Saudi Arabia Residence permit

According to Saudi Arabian legislation, companies in the KSA can only hire foreign workers for a set period based on their work permits. However, employees in the private sector can obtain work visas that are valid for a year, but they can renew these visas to make them longer-lasting. However, the length of your residence permit depends on the category you applied for under the new premium residency program. In contrast to the SP2 category, which has to be renewed annually, the SP1 category allows its bearer to remain in Saudi Arabia permanently.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Is Iqama a permanent residence permit?

Iqama is a work permit that permits foreign nationals to reside and work in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia residence permit is locally known as Iqama and has the exact requirements as the residence permit or visa.

#2. What is the maximum age to work in Saudi Arabia?

Any fit and healthy individual between 18 and 60 can work in Saudi Arabia. As long as you possess the necessary professional and academic credentials the KSA needs (assuming there is a scarcity of nationals with such credentials) or you fall into the employees they require, you may find employment in Saudi Arabia.

#3. How long does it take to get to Iqama in Saudi Arabia?

Processing time for Iqama or Residence permits in Saudi Arabia takes between one and three working weeks.

#4. Is moving to Saudi Arabia worth it?

Saudi Arabia has a cheaper cost of living compared to other Middle Eastern nations. Most expatriates have abundant lives, mainly if their work package includes housing, transportation, and educational benefits.

#5. Where do most foreigners live in Saudi Arabia?

Most foreigners reside in suburban homes in cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, Yanbu, and Dhahran.


The Saudi Arabia resident permit is available to everyone who wants to live and invest in Saudi Arabia. Considering how cheap it is to live in Saudi Arabia, having a residence permit there isn’t a terrible idea. And thanks to this article, the application procedure has been simplified even further.

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