Saudi Arabia clarifies six-year expatriate visa limit
Explaining Nitaqat the new Saudi government programme to be enforced in June
Measure applies to private sector firms that do not abide by job nationalization quotas
Throughout Faqih meeting with Saudi businessmen in the Eastern Region at Asharqia Chamber.. Covering Saudization of jobs as the minister explains the new (Nitaqat)program in detail.
Ending speculation that it is about to limit the stay of expatriate workers to six years, Saudi Arabia has clarified that the decision applies to only those private sector firms that do not abide by the country’s job nationalisation quotas.
A government official was reacting to statements made by Saudi Labour Minister, Mr Adel Faqih who said a new incentive programme for the private sector to recruit more Saudis includes limiting the stay of foreign workers to six years.
Nitaqat (limits), the new Saudi government programme to be enforced in June, compels private sector firms in the Gulf Kingdom to recruit Saudis and provides incentives to companies which abide by the new rules. The programme will limit the stay of foreign workers, mainly unskilled, to six years for certain categories of firms while it will also ban visa renewals for non-compliant companies.
The minister said the programme would be implemented in June and would give four classifications to companies, including “excellent and green” for those who abide by Saudization quotas and “red and yellow” for non-compliant firms.
“What the Labour Minister meant by his statement was that the measure would be applied on those foreigners who work for companies in the yellow (non-compliant) category,” Mr Hattab Al-Anazi, official spokesman of the Labour Ministry was quoted by the Arabic media as saying.
Faqih put the official unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, at around 10.5 per cent but noted female joblessness largely exceeds that rate, standing at nearly 26.6 per cent. Unemployment among Saudi high school graduates is also as high as 40 per cent.
He said that companies in the yellow category that did not fulfil Saudization conditions should correct their status in order to get visas of their workers renewed.
Mr Al—Anazi also said visas for foreign workers in red category companies would not be renewed at all, irrespective of the years they have spent in the Kingdom.
“The new Nitaqat system allows renewal of iqamas (work visas) without any condition for expatriates who work in companies in the green and excellent category,” Mr Al—Anazi said.
He noted that the new measure would not apply on house servants as their visas would be renewed without considering how many years they stayed in the country. “They are not at all linked with the Nitaqat system,” he said.