Saudi Arabia Visas, Permits and Immigration

by Jose Marc Castro on August 11, 2009

VISASaudiArabia200All foreigners planning to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are required to obtain a valid passport and entry visa from a nearby Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia or Consulate. All individuals with a residence permit are required to have an exit or an exit and re-entry visa. This is provided by a Passport Department in the Kingdom upon the request of the Saudi employer or sponsor.

Saudi Arabia Immigration

Three types of entry visa can be issued by Saudi Arabia Royal Embassies or Consulates, apart from the Hajj and Umrah visa (Holy Makkah visit). The respective embassies or consulates abroad will grant visas at their discretion often depending on the nature of the visit such as leisure, business, investment, studies, mass media, permanent residency, employment, etc. Other forms of travel and identification documents are also recommended to be brought by all visitors. Certain laws and statutes govern all matters concerning citizenship, tourism and immigration.

An expat shared his experience in Dubai Expat Forum last April 17, 2009:

“Everyone who enters the Kingdom should have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and the appropriate visa. Unless you are a visitor from a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council — Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman)country or in transit, all other nationalities require a visa to enter the Kingdom.

Unlike other countries of the GCC, Saudi Arabia does not issue tourist visas nor is it possible for a hotel to sponsor a visitor. Other than the two types of visas which are only available to Muslims, there exist visitor’s visas, residence visas or transit visas.

In all cases, a person entering the Kingdom must have a Saudi sponsor, which means an individual or a company to vouch for the individual’s conduct while in the country. Visas can be obtained from the visa department in the Saudi Embassy of the visitor’s home country or from Saudi Consulates available in all main cities around the world.

The cost of a visa is generally 200 Saudi Riyals. However, visitors should check with the Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

WARNING: All government business in Saudi Arabia is conducted according to the Islamic calendar. Any Gregorian (western) date you encounter on official documents is there purely for your convenience and is in no way to be construed as official. The official date will be the Islamic one and as the Islamic year is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian one, confusion can — and often does — result. For example, a one month visa is valid for an Islamic month, not a Gregorian one. If the visitor stays for a Gregorian month, there is a distinct possibility he will have overstayed his visa by a day or two and he will almost surely encounter difficulties with the authorities when he attempts to leave the Kingdom.”

Visitor’s Visas

A visitor’s visa, which is in actual fact a business visa, is obtained upon a formal invitation from the company or individual sponsoring the visitor. The invitation will include a visa number and it is primarily a statement that the sponsor has obtained a visa for the visitor and that authority to issue the visa has been sent to the appropriate Saudi embassy.

With the visa number in hand, the individual can go to the embassy BUT as visas are issued only by number and not by name, if one has no number, there is absolutely no point in going to the embassy.  No number, no visa: the rule is simple and is applied to all applicants. If, on the other hand, the visitor is at the embassy in the morning with his number, he can usually collect his visa in the afternoon.

Visa Extensions

The visa extensions can only be obtained by your sponsor.

Important Notes

If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport.
Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.
A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore travel by car only if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.
All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.
Pilgrims must also have all valid documentation and a passport that is valid for 6 months”

A Family Visit or Resident Visa:

Family members of an individual working in Saudi Arabia can obtain a family visit visa to travel to the Kingdom. The employed spouse must submit a request of invitation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia, who will then send the authorization directly to the Saudi Embassy or one of its Consulates.

An original visa application with all sections completed.
A passport, valid for at least six months and containing at least four blank pages.
One passport-sized photograph.
A letter from a Saudi company on company letterhead sponsoring the applicant.
If the applicant is a wife visiting her husband, she must supply a copy of their marriage certificate. If the applicant is a child visiting a parent, a copy of their birth certificate is required.
A money order for $54.00 for each person.
Include the number and date of the visa of the family member working in Saudi Arabia.

The special guidelines to be observed in Hajj and Umrah visas have been outlined by the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Immigration Laws

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia currently welcomes foreign investments and skilled professionals to further strengthen its technologies and expertise in various fields. The Saudi Arabia Council of Ministers issued a new Foreign Investment Law providing benefits and easier access for foreign investors. The General Investment Commission was also established to implement the rules and issue investment licenses and permits to foreign nationals working or investing in the country.

The 2003 Terror Immigration Elimination Act also helps improve the security of all people visiting or residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Act limits the issuance of diversity immigrant and student visas to aliens who are Saudi Arabia nationals and countries that encourage terrorism acts or do not fully cooperate with the anti-terrorism efforts of the United States. Other laws also protect laborers and workers by providing sufficient residence visas and permits to maintain livelihood.

Visa Immigration Services

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires visas from all foreign nationals entering the country or its territories with the exception of:

•    nationals of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates;
•    passengers in transit proceeding on their journey by the first or same connecting aircraft within eighteen (18) hours provided they are holders of valid onward or return documents and do not leave the airport premises and do not make any further landings in Saudi Arabia, but exceptions are made for nationals of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria since these foreigners are always required a transit visa; and
•    holders of “Landing Permits” and re-entry permits issued by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The following individuals are restricted entry in Saudi Arabia:

•    holders of Israeli passport or passports having Israeli stamps in them;
•    passengers who do not comply with Saudi conventions of behavior and dress or seemingly intoxicated individuals; and
•    special regulations are provided for pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia.

Visitors need a passport with a validity period no more than six (6) months since the date of visa issuance, plus a visa to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Visas are needed and issued for purposes such as:

•    visiting family or close relatives or attending a funeral;
•    business, investment and employment;
•    transit;
•    religious visits; and
•    tourism.

Tourism visas are only issued for approved tour groups that follow organized itineraries. Seaport and airport visas are not available. All visas should also have a sponsor which can take several months to process and must be acquired before arriving in the country. Travelers who are holders of passports showing the holder’s plans of going to Israel or original Israel citizenship used to be denied entry to Saudi Arabia. Sponsors have to meet female visitors and residents upon arriving in Saudi Arabia. Several women previously experienced delays primarily because they were traveling alone and did not have any sponsors to meet.

Women with plans of permanently residing in Saudi Arabia should be informed that all children and females living in the country as members of a Saudi household such as adult women married to Saudi nationals, unmarried adult women who are daughters of Saudi fathers, and males below 21 years old with Saudi-born parents are considered household property and will need the permission of the Saudi household male head before leaving the country.

Married women need to be allowed by their Saudi husbands to depart the country, while male Saudi fathers or guardians grant permission to unmarried women, children and young boys to depart the Kingdom. Saudi mothers cannot independently grant permission to minor children without their husbands consent.

Visitor visas or entering Saudi Arabia does not require an exit permit but may be prohibited from leaving the country if they are currently involved in legal disputes. An exit permit may not be granted prior to court resolution or case abandonment if visitors are involved in labor dispute or employment dismissal; some Saudi sponsors can have an impact in negotiations, thereby possibly preventing departure or future employment in Saudi Arabia.
Meningitis vaccination certificates are required from visitors before arriving in Saudi Arabia. For work and residence permits, a medical report or physical examination is needed. Saudi Arabia residents who wish to leave the country are required to obtain an exit permit before leaving and an exit and re-entry permit if they plan to return to the country. Exit permits require the Saudi sponsor’s approval. Passports of US citizens’ presented to depart may be refused recognition by the Saudi government if it was not used to enter the country.

Visa Types

Hajj and Umrah Visa

A Hajj visa issued to Muslims who wish to take part in the hajj during the first half of the twelfth Islamic month. The visas are issued based on a quota system, particularly 1 for every 1000 Muslims in a given country population. An Umrah visa is issued to Muslims who wish to enter and pray in the Holy Cities of Madinah and Mekkah. It is issued anytime aside from the actual hajj. Umrah visas require applications to be made in the applicants’ home country or country of permanent residence.

Applicants who do not have a Muslim name or do not come from a Muslim country will be required an official document proving Islam religion. Converts are required documents supporting conversion from a mosque. An Umrah visa has a validity period of one (1) week for travel to Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah as well as the roads connecting them. Traveling from the land border is allowed if the entire trip is taken by road.

Visitor Visa

This is also considered a business visa requiring a formal invitation from the individual or company sponsoring the visitor. The invitation contains a visa number and also serves as a statement that the visitor has obtained a visa via the sponsor. The issuance authority should have also been sent to the Saudi embassy. The rule is “No Number, No Visa” so all visitors can only claim visas upon presentation of the visa number.

Residence Visa

This is issued to individuals who wish to live and work in Saudi Arabia. Copies of existing employment contract and academic or professional credential documents need to be presented. Applicants are also required a comprehensive medical examination with forms available at the Saudi embassy. Visitors need to be HIV negative. Paperwork usually takes six (6) weeks, which in effect will lead to a visa number for claiming.

Airport Transit Visa

This is issued to individuals passing through Saudi airports, available in twenty-four (24) and forty-eight (48) hours. The visa is only issued after the applicant has shown sufficient proof of no other ideal routes except to stop by the Kingdom. Individuals who do not acquire an Airport Transit visa are required to surrender their passports to immigration officers at the airport to be collected during departure.

Road Transit Visa

This is issued to individuals driving from Jordan to either Kuwait or Yemen with a validity period of three (3) days. Only the embassies of Sana’a and Amman usually issue Road Transit visas. Visitors are required to report to the embassy with their visa and carnet for the country at the opposite end of the journey. Seven (7)-day transit visas are usually given to visitors driving between Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and UAE. Those driving from Jordan to Oman need to get their visas in Abu Dhabi.

Visa extensions can be obtained by visitors’ sponsors.

Types of Permits

Work Permit

This is issued to foreign nationals who intend to work, start a business or invest in Saudi Arabia-based companies or organizations. Sufficient evidence should be provided showing relations and contracts between the individual or foreign company and the Saudi organization. This is granted together with the residence permit or visitor visa.

Residence Permit

This is issued to aliens who intend to live and work permanently in Saudi Arabia. Applicants are still required to obtain exit and re-entry visas if they intend to leave the country. Validity period will depend on the conditions of the applicant and the concerns of the Saudi government. Spouses and children of individuals working in Saudi Arabia should also obtain residence permits to live in the country.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Rana Muhammad Atif January 22, 2015 at 7:50 am

Hi !
I want to get some information regarding the visa policy in Saudi Arabia.
I have been accepted to study PhD at King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah Saudi Arabia. The university has issued me a visa number. i am completing all the formalities to proceed for the course. However, i will be able to join the course in September, 2015 for my studies.

In the meantime my wife, who is a lady doctor has got offer letter from Ministry of Health (Saudi Arabia) as specialist in Jeddah . She is also processing her case and she has to report at Jeddah within 3 months from now.

I will get a dependent visa (as family member) if i travel with her during this time period ,however, the visa issued to me earlier is the student visa.

My question is that, can i travel with my wife as dependent but having student visa?
or
Can i proceed my studies having dependent visa (family member) at King AbdulAziz University Jeddah?

Kindly guide me in this matter.

Thanking in anticipation

Best Regards.
Atif

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nnoush February 15, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Did you find an answer to your question since im searching for the same,
can a person on student visa have a dependent?

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Ruksana Taj March 12, 2015 at 6:56 am

Hi I m ruksana staying in India but my husband is staying in dam am(alhasa)I m baculer in computer application if any job regard any teaching r receptionist with visa plz reply

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mahmood ahmed March 27, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I need to check visa status to gosaudia aribia for umaraha

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rasheed April 5, 2015 at 8:02 am

I have an iqamah and am employed as a special driver. I want to bring wife for umrah. Please advise the procedure

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Shaghayegh April 11, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Hi
I am Iranian woman, about to marry with the engineer Syrian guy lives and works in Saudi Arabia. I have a daughter which is 10 years old and I can’t find the rules for taking residence visa for her… Can you please advice me what rule is available for such a case? Thank you very much…

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Mohammad April 15, 2015 at 6:22 pm

sir before 2 months I got a job opportunity from Oman….I went for medical and successfully completed my medical and I have submitted to my agent but now I got a job offer from Saudi….the salary is more and good company…so now I have to do Saudi medical again….is it possible or I have to wait for the Oman medical expiry date…..
or can I get to other state and have medical there
please give me a review sir…I am very much nervous because the company wants me as possible as to report to the kingdom for my job…

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ness May 19, 2015 at 11:19 am

Hi.

My friend is planning to go to saudi arabia to work. Her company told her that they will help her to be transfer in KSA within the same company here in Kuwait. But the company is asking for a marriage certificate since she is going there to be with hEr fiance. But the fiance said that if she go in KSA married to him she cant work, since its not allowed for married women to work.

Please advice.

Thanks.
Ness

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Mohammad Qasim May 27, 2015 at 7:40 am

Dear sir
i have interview by phone and successful but my new company Hr department are saying please wait your visa system is not approved being Pakistani you are prohibited for few days

so please advise me is it correct any restrict for Pakistani employment visa

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Abdul Mannan June 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Dear all,

I’m Pakistan national. I have Bahrain residence visa but I am working in KSA (Khobar) on Business VISA which issued on my Bahrain Residence Visa. my question is my family is also have Bahrain residence visa can I bring my family with me in KSA from Bahrain?

Pls anyone will help me??

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sha June 6, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I want about visa rule s
I have Kuwait visa I do not want to go kuweit I want go soudi Arab so plz sent detail

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Sameer June 21, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Dear all,

Please suggest me, I was working in Kuwait since past 2 years, one of saudi company asked me to join in saudi but my Kuwait visa is a valid, now the agent who is processing my visa stamping they are claiming that embassy is not accepting me for visa stamping.
what will be the solution, i could not be able to take exit from Kuwait.

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Tamrej Alam July 8, 2015 at 3:49 am

I am form India .my Driving visa plz

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Malik Farhan July 9, 2015 at 9:50 am

Am want to check permission number saudia plz tell me websites

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Tahir Hussain July 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

I have been permitted working MATAF visa 2 yrs back. Visa extended 4 times. Now I want to go back but my sponser doesn’t want to send me. Resign isn’t accepted. Extension visa is also not given. I am without visa now. Company wants either work or police capture so that no deus have to pay. Tell me what to do.

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Ahmad July 14, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Hi,
I have a Business Visa to Saudi Arabia with my wife and kids. Can I enroll them in schools?

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satabdi sen August 9, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I have got residency visa as my husband works in Saudi.do I have exit permit before 11th month of staying in Saudi Arabia if any emergency situation came because my father is suffering from moutth cancer and standing at the verge of his death???please help me by giving the corret information…thank you

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Hazel August 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Hi please help me regarding the visa of my son he has residence permit or valid iqama but currently my son is the philippines but his visa is expired when we went to jawasat they give us paper to give to saudi embassy in the philippines my question how to change his name in his visa and iqama coz its not match to his passport since visa has been expired now theyre seeing problem with the documents please somebody can help me regarding this matter and what are all the requirements thank u

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Mohammed September 3, 2015 at 11:52 am

My father is coming to saudi arabia for hajj (on Hajj Visa)

can he visit Riyadh during this time ??

Thanks
Mohammed

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John September 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I have the intention to migrate and work in Saudi Arabia. I need to know more about how I can make my dream come true. Please assist. Thank you.

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Amit kr singh September 10, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Actually sir i want to know that my medical is completed from GAMCA & already i have submitted my passport, photos, medical report to concerned agency. But my question is how can i confirm that the visa number which is provided to me is ethical or unethical? Please guide me. I will oblige to you.

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Mohamed derek September 15, 2015 at 5:45 am

Dear Sir,

I am a sri lankan married to an egyptian lady and living in egypt for 25 years. I have tried many times to obtain visas for Haj for both of us but, failed. because I am Sri lanka, i was told it is issued only there. But, I want to travel with my wife together. Please advise.

Rgerads,
Mohamsd Derek Jumat

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larry turner lawrence May 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm

my brother has been in saudia arabia over 20 years he is having problems in retriving his youngest son;s birth certificate from the hospital in which he was born, can the crba document help him in this mannerthe document consular report of birth abroad.

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Muhammad Siddiq Aasi October 11, 2015 at 7:21 am

Aslam u Alaikum sir i am an experienced agricuture expert specialized in plant protection work .seek relevant job at kingdom of saudiarabia need guidance and proper support thanks

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abogun soliu January 7, 2016 at 4:54 pm

hello, please am looking for a job in saudi arabia, i am from nigeria and also a graduate of business administration

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Hafiz Mohammed AbdulSamie January 29, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Dear Sir. I am at present working as a Head Master of a Government High School. I have 35 Years Experience as a Teacher as well as Head. I am very much fond of teaching or Administrating self school. If I am selected as a Teacher or given permission/ Visa to open myself a private school in Saudia Arabia, inshaALLAH

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shahjad sheikh January 30, 2016 at 8:27 am

i am want about the worker visa policy of saudi arabia

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Mohamed ziyard February 9, 2016 at 8:31 am

I am Srilankan my daughter has recived a sponser letter from her husband for a visit visa . Just I want to know what is the documents that I have to submit to the Embassy of Saudi

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Asad ullah April 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

Dear sir
I am Pakistani national. my wife has iqma her parents they are Pakistani but leave in Saudi Arabia.
My question is that how I can get iqmah using my wife iqmah?
Is it possible that I can convert umrah visa into iqmah?
Plz guide me
Thanks
Asad ullah

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Dr. Anuradha April 21, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Iam working for Prince Sattam university as an assistant prof. My husband came with family visa, at that time his status was wrongly entered as brother of me in the computer there in the immigration time in the air port, though it was correctly written as husband in his passport visa.

Please any one tell me where can i get correction for this mistake and whom should I contact.
I have visited the airport again for correction but it was not done there. I also visited Ministry for Foreign Affairs. there also it was not get corrected.

Please help me because there is an emergency home my country where my husband has to attend.

The problem is that unless it is corrected, his details are not going to enter in the medical report, which is a must for issue of iqama.

I request the concern officials or any others who can solve my problem as soon as possible.
Thanks.

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hussain September 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm

my wife is in her father resident visa of KSA. but she is in india and we have a new born baby . now how can my wife and child go to saudi in father resident visa. is it possible and how they go pls help me soon its urgent

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mutahir bhutta October 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm

my brother is go to pak from saudi arabia fir six mounths , whats is new rules for it, is he can come again here on new visa

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ALKALI YAHAYA October 12, 2016 at 5:30 am

SALAM, PLEASE I WANT FIND OUT THEY NEW RULES REGARDING UMRAH VISA.
THE UMRAH VISA IS THIS STILL FREE?
IF NO HOW MUCH IS THIS AND WHAT ARE THE REASON FOR UMRAH FEES?
JAZAKALLAHU HAIRAN

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Rex Baja January 1, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Hi! I want to know if Saudi Embassy will also issue visa for my son’s mother? We are not married yet but has plan to get married here in Saudi if she’ll be able to get Visa going here together with my son. My child is only 9 years old and she needs her mother to accompany him going here in Saudi. Will it be possible for Saudi Embassy to issue visa for her since she is travelling with my son?

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Sidra March 5, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Asslam o alikum wana ask my cousion brother is UK natinal but he want to come to saudi arabia can any one tel me any way so he can come and do job here.if he try business visa what should be the requirements and
Can he come from UK on business visa?

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Marco R.V. Macapanas March 10, 2017 at 6:26 am

To Whom it may concern,
AS-SALAM ALAIKOM!
I worked in Dammam for 5mos.only due to problems of employer and agencies which causes me not to complete my 2 yrs. contract, my employer give me Exit Visa in departing Dammam and i forgot to ask for a copy.
Now, i’m planning to work or back again and i’m worried if the exit visa they give has re entry.
I’m afraid if i will encounter difficulties with the Saudi Authorities in entering the Kingdom again.
How will i know if the Exit Visa they give has no Re Entry?
Please advise and reply,thank you very much!

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Tibz March 18, 2017 at 9:01 am

Aoa..I have two baby boys from my previous husband so can I travel with kids towards Saudi Arabia to my present husband working in multi national company there.

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Mohammad Mashukul Islam May 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Assalamualaikum
Dear Concerned
I am a resident of Bangladesh would like to migrate to Saudi Arabia along with my family. Currently working for a multi national telecommunication company in Bangladesh as Deputy General Manager. Would appreciate if you share me the detail requirement to get Permanent residence visa at KSA with family.

Wish to get your early response with necessary detail ASAP Inn sha Allah .

Thanking you in Advance

Mohammad Mashukul Islam

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John Juanopulos March 16, 2018 at 12:04 am

one of my relatives was working for the King of Saudi Arabia as the king”s personal chef. Then he was hired by the son of the previews King , and for one reason or another something went wrong and he was captured for being in the country without a visa.If he was working all these years for the King I don;t see how he was able to be there without a visa. The Greek embassy in Saudi Arabia is not helping any. Can anyone please respond, and tell me what is the fine or the consequences in a situation like this? From what i see in Google it says 3 months is jail and deportation.

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