The Saudi government has approved a new special residence scheme, similar to the green card systems used elsewhere, which aims to attract affluent and highly-skilled foreign nationals, and which will be implemented within the next five years.

Unlike the present system, the ‘special privilege’ iqama (residence permit) scheme will not require applicants to have a Saudi sponsor. In addition, holders will be able to work, obtain visas for relatives, hire workers, own property and transport, and leave and re-enter the country without an exit/re-entry visa.

Under the new system, qualifying applicants will be able to choose either a permanent or a renewable one-year iqama, in return for a one-off fee.

To qualify, the applicant must hold a valid passport, be financially solvent, be at least 21 years old, hold a valid iqama (if applicable) and have a clean criminal record and a clear medical report.

Action items

There is no date set for the implementation of this new system. Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact their immigration specialist for case-specific advice.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.