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KSA approves Green Card-style residence scheme for foreigners

The benefits on offer include the ability to recruit of workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry and freedom of movement and exit from the Kingdom and return. Holders of new iqama will also have a family status and be entitled to use the processing service designated for Saudis at airports.

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News Desk |

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a giant leap towards modernization by offering a “Green Card”-style residence system for foreigners aimed at attracting investors.

The Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has approved plans to attract entrepreneurs and investors from overseas with a green card-style residency scheme. The Shura Council consisting of a 150-member parliament has approved draft proposals and laws before referring the matter to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for final approval.

The KSA has decided to abolish decades-old Kafala system under which a migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to an individual employer or sponsor (kafeel) during the contract period. The move is an attempt to attract foreign skilled professionals and investors.

Holders of new iqama will also have a family status and be entitled to use the processing service designated for Saudis at airports.

With the approval of the scheme, a person would no longer be dependent upon someone to sponsor his/her travels to the kingdom. Finding a sponsor for traveling to Saudi Arabia has always been a barrier to enter the kingdom but it seems, the times are now changing.

New Privileged Iqama

The Arab media reported that the authorized draft of the new Privileged Iqama system will offer a raft of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employer as is required under the current system.

As per the media reports, the benefits on offer include the ability to recruit of workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry and freedom of movement and exit from the Kingdom and return.

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With specific fee, a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record, the new system would offer two categories: an extended iqama and a temporary one. Holders of new iqama will also have a family status and be entitled to use the processing service designated for Saudis at airports.

MBS’ Vision to Diversify Economy

In 2016, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had said in an interview with Bloomberg that the kingdom was planning to devise a Green Card-style residence system for expatriates that will inject billions of dollars into the national economy. Saudi Arabia, the media reported, being the world’s top oil exporter is now seeking to diversify its economy.

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The possibility of losing one’s job and sponsor often deterred expats from investing in the kingdom despite living there for decades. With the new scheme, the country has offered expats more security and stability in return for investments as earlier, many prefer investing money in their native countries.