Big relief to Indian families as Saudi allowed minimum Iqama period of three months

By Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah: In a big relief for many expats, Saudi Arabia has allowed the issuance and renewal of residency permits known as Iqamas for a minimum of three months period.

The Saudi Cabinet Presided by Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, King Salman on Tuesday approved the change, official news agency SPA reported.

Since fees for the renewal of work and residency permits can be split up and paid based on the duration of the issued and renewed permits, it would ease all parties especially dependents.

Domestic workers not included

However, domestic workers such as maids, house drivers and similar category employees were not included in the change.

Currently issuance of Iqama and renewal costing 9850 riyals that include labour ministry fee but excluding insurance. The entire amount is being paid in one go for an annum irrespective of less duration.

Several Indian families who want to send their families back after annual academic examinations were relieved with the news.

This is part of reforms initiated by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social development to enhance competitive and healthy employment environment in the country where seven decades-old current Kafala system regulates the affairs.

The mandatory contractual relationship between the employee and the employer and exit and re-entry visas without consent of the sponsor are other salient features of new labour reforms that are set to take effect in March 2021.

Vision 2030 plan

The new reforms come as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the economy and attract high-skilled workers to the country.

Saudi Arabia in November announced plans to ease foreign workers’ contractual restrictions.

The new plans grant foreign workers the right to change jobs and leave the country without employers’ permission.

To benefit from the new reforms, the expatriate worker must have completed one year with their current employer from when they first entered the Kingdom and the worker must also have a notarized employment contract.

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