Saudi Arabia issues labor reforms for expats; regulates Exit and Re-Entry Visa issuance

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) launched on Wednesday a Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) under the National Transformation Program (NTP) that aims to support the Ministry’s vision of establishing an attractive job market, empowering and developing labor competencies and developing the work environment in the Kingdom.

The new initiative that applies to foreign workers, will allow job mobility and regulates the exit and re-entry visa issuance.

It also activates the contractual agreement between the employee and employer based on their employment contract through digital documentation of those contracts, which will contribute to reducing the disparity between Saudi workers and the expatriates.

The reforms, to take effect on March 14, 2021, applies to all expatriate workers.

Employee mobility will allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers upon the expiry of the binding work contract without the employer’s consent. The exit and re-entry visa reforms will allow expatriate workers to travel outside Saudi Arabia without the employers’ approval after submitting a request, the ministry explained.

The final exit visa reforms will allow the foreign worker to leave the kingdom after the end of the employment contract without the consent of the employer who will be electronically notified. The worker will bear all consequences for breaking the contract.

All three services will be made available to the public through the smartphone application (Absher) and (Qiwa) portal of the MHRSD.

The Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) is also expected to have several economic effects, including developing the local market and the flexibility of work, increase the productivity within the private sector, attracting highly skilled talent, and ultimately contributing to achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 through the National Transformation Program.