How to Get Riyadh Visa​

How to Get Riyadh Visa

Business Visa

Business travelers should apply for a Business Visa (aka Commercial Visa) to Saudi Arabia. It is only valid for business visits, negotiations, investment talks, sales pitches, etc. If there is any kind of paid work involved, you need an Employment Visa (please see below). To obtain a business visa, you require:

  1. a valid passport
  2. a recent passport photograph
  3. a completed application form
  4. a letter from your employer, a Saudi company, a foreign chamber of commerce in Riyadh, etc. to prove your position and the purpose of your visit
  5. payment of the visa fee
  6. an online visa request number


Employment Visa

If you’d like to take up profitable employment in Riyadh, you need an Employment Visa. Like other Gulf States, Saudi Arabia has a sponsorship system (kafeel). Usually, your employer in Riyadh acts as your visa sponsor. The company applies for an employment permit from the Labor Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first. Other than that, an application for an Employment Visa requires:

  1. a valid passport with two blank pages facing each other
  2. a recent passport photograph
  3. a completed application form
  4. a letter from your sponsor, certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chamber of Commerce
  5. a reference note with the number and date of your employment permit
  6. certified and notarized copies of your diplomas
  7. a copy of your job contract
  8. a police certificate with up-to-date information on your criminal record
  9. three copies of a medical report (including an HIV test)
  10. payment of the visa fee
  11. an online visa request number


Residence Visa

If you are an expat spouse accompanying your partner to Riyadh, you need to get a Residence Visa. Your husband will be your sponsor and guardian while you are in Saudi Arabia. There are some single expat women working in Riyadh, but the Saudi system probably couldn’t accommodate a male spouse with a working wife as the sponsor. You must also have a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before submitting an application. The rules are similar to those for getting an Employment Visa (see above). Instead of your professional qualifications and job contract, however, you need to attach an official proof of kinship (notarized marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.).


General Advice

Please be aware that all these regulations are subject to change and may depend on the country you’re applying from. When in doubt, ask the nearest Saudi embassy. Remember to apply well in advance of your move to Riyadh. It may take several months to process your application. Moreover, you may face certain difficulties in two cases.

Firstly, people of Saudi descent who might have a claim to Saudi citizenship should always enter the country on a foreign passport, plus Saudi visa. The Saudi Embassy or Consulate in question may offer you a so-called “laissez passer” document to make your travel easier. However, this usually only helps you with entering the country and may then require you to get a Saudi passport before leaving again. The latter procedure can then take up to a year, during which you are not legally allowed to depart.

Secondly, Saudi Arabia does not recognize dual nationality. If you have both the Saudi and another nationality, you will be treated like a Saudi citizen while living in Riyadh. Getting consular help is then extremely difficult or, at times, impossible – enquire beforehand what to do as a person with dual citizenship.

Once you have received your visa, clarify for how long it will be valid. The date may be written using the Islamic calendar. If you are not familiar with it, find out the equivalent in the Gregorian calendar. 

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