SAUDI ARABIA - Labour Market Test for Block Visas and Increased Fees
Effective 1 August 2016, The Ministry of Labour in Saudi Arabia has announced the introduction of a Labour Market Test for the application of new block visas and a significant increase in visa application fees.
Labour Market Test
On 1 August 2016, the Ministry of Labour introduced a new labour portal and database named ‘Taqaat’. Employers are now required to first advertise job roles via the portal before applying for new block visas. The job vacancy must be posted for at least fourteen days and up to thirty days, to ensure that there are no locally qualified Saudi nationals who could fill the role. Proof of efforts to employ local applicants (evidence of interviews and justification for acceptance/rejection) is required for the block visa approval process. Labour Market Testing could add three to four weeks to the overall processing time for block visa approval.
Visa Application Fees
A substantial increase to government visa fees from 2 October 2016 has also been approved, and will significantly raise costs for both visitors and foreign employees living and working in Saudi Arabia. This will affect all visit, exit and re-entry visas. However, the government has stated that these increased fees will not affect individuals applying for a first-time Hajj or Umrah visa, and will not impact any bilateral deals already signed by Saudi Arabia with other countries.
- Companies operating in Saudi Arabia with foreign national employees must be sure to advertise jobs via the new Taqaat portal, and should be prepared for the upcoming visa fee hike.
- Employers in Saudi Arabia are advised to consult an immigration provider for further information or assistance.