The world is rapidly becoming globalized and multinational companies are moving with migrant workers to different countries across the world. However, for you to access and work in a foreign country like Saudi Arabia you will need to have proper visa and work permits as required by immigration laws. Your work permits in Saudi Arabia as an employee are sponsored by the employer in form of block visa, block visa is a form of documentation that companies in Saudi Arabia use to bring foreign workers into the country. Under the block visa scheme, companies in Saudi Arabia are granted a pre-approved block of visa to hire foreign workers to fill vacant positions in their entities. The employer has to register with the Ministry of Interior to indicate areas where his company needs expatriate employees and their details.
The process of applying for a position you are interested in the block involves making an application at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour and Social Development The most critical thing as the company is to indicate the job title that align your qualifications with the job description. Aligning the job title with your qualifications is imperative since in the event that your qualifications do not match the field and the role you are applying for you become disqualified. Moreover, when the block is approved you cannot amend it and you have to stick with the job that you applied for which sometimes may result in visa refusal when applying at a Saudi consulate on your country of legal residence.
Your block visa is valid for two years during which time you have to apply for a work permit (entry visa) as your local Saudi consulate. Previously, the block visa was valid for one year until the Saudi Arabia government reinstated the validity to two years. The decision was informed by the need of the government to facilitate business in genuine need of manpower.
Upon your arrival in Saudi Arabia on a block visa, you will need to register with the Ministry of Labor for residency/ Iqama permit. You will then be forwarded to the Ministry of Interior for issuance of Iqama/residency permit. Your employer will obtain the Iqama from the Directorate General for Passports within 1-3 weeks. You will be required to carry the Iqama all the times to prove you have the legal right to live and work in Saudi Arabia.
It is important for a company applying for the block visa to prepare in advance to have a clear picture of the employees it is looking for. It is also necessary for you as an applicant to seek expert assistance since the process of application is at times difficult to navigate. A work permit makes life bearable while in Saudi Arabia compared to visit visas as you get full rights as a resident. These are namely, opening a bank account, getting a driver’s licence, buying or renting a car etc.