Living in the Middle East / Saudi Arabia

Immigration and Visas

Date Posted: February 16, 2016      

All expatriates living in Saudi Arabia are required to have the appropriate permission to do so. You will need to obtain a residence visa and work permit, referred to in Saudi Arabia as an Iqama. Your family members will also need to obtain a residence visa. It is unlawful to live and/or work in Saudi Arabia without the correct immigration permissions in place.

Abdul Latif Jameel will assist you in obtaining your Iqama and will be your sponsor for immigration purposes. Once you have obtained your Iqama you will be able to sponsor your spouse and children for residence. Entry visas must be applied for on behalf of your family prior to their departure from their home country. However, it should be noted that the immigration process for the family can only begin once the post-arrival formalities for the Associate, as sponsor, have been completed and the Iqama is issued. Accordingly, it is commonplace for Associates to obtain their Iqamas before their families join them. This process can take several months.

Iqamas are used as proof of legitimate residency and are used for various purposes including opening a bank account, obtaining a tenancy agreement, connecting the water and electricity at your home and obtaining TV, phone or cable connection. Once you have them, we recommend that you keep copies of these documents to hand for your personal use.

We’ve set out a general overview of the process of obtaining the Iqama below. However, please note that the requirements can differ depending on your country of origin. Abdul Latif Jameel HR will assist you in this process.


  • Apply for electronic work authorization Abdul Latif Jameel will complete this step for you.
  • Apply for Saudi Arabia entry visa. In order to obtain the entry visa you apply through the Saudi Arabia Embassy in your home country.

The key documents that are required to be submitted to the Saudi Arabia Embassy include:

  1. Completed application forms which will be provided by the embassy;
  2. Original passport;
  3. Passport photographs (it is good practice to keep a stock of around 20 photographs for various applications);
  4. Professional Qualification (for example education certificates). For some job roles these certificates will require to be attested. (This attestation process will also need to be performed for marriage and birth certificates of your spouse/dependents).
  5. Certificates from the police/security authorities confirming that you do not have a criminal record.

Once the entry visa is issued you will be able to travel to and enter Saudi Arabia.

  • Arrival in Saudi Arabia: Upon your arrival in Saudi Arabia you will be provided with a “border number” which will be written in your passport together with an “entry stamp”. You are likely to be asked about your Saudi Arabian employer and your temporary accommodation arrangements. Therefore, please make sure that you have a record of Abdul Latif Jameel’s address and contact number together with the address details of your hotel.You should use an authorized taxi when you leave the airport and request a receipt. It is common to agree the fare before the journey.

    Authorized taxis are located outside the arrival terminal in a designated area.

  • Contacting Abdul Latif Jameel: Once you are in Saudi Arabia you should contact Abdul Latif Jameel to confirm you have arrived safely.You should also provide Abdul Latif Jameel with your border number details and a copy of your entry stamp so that we can arrange your medical insurance and the next steps of the Iqama process.
  • Medical: All expatriates are required to undergo a medical upon arrival. Abdul Latif Jameel HR will help arrange this. You should bring your original passport and two recent photographs.The medical check-up usually takes no more than a few hours and includes a blood test, chest x-ray and urinalysis. The results are usually received in one to two days.
  • Apply for Iqama: Assuming there are no issues with the medical results, Abdul Latif Jameel will make the final Iqama application.You should expect to receive your Iqama in approximately two to four weeks assuming that the requisite documentation is provided quickly.