RIYADH 23 June: Saudi Arabia launched on Sunday their new special residency scheme similar to green card systems applicable in other countries, aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats.
The residency scheme offers two types of residencies, a permanent one for 800,000 Saudi riyals ($213,321.96) and a one year but renewable residency for 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,665.24).
The scheme was approved by the Saudi cabinet last month, but on Sunday the online portal to apply was opened to the public.
The residencies would allow foreign expats free movement, ability to own properties and to do business in the kingdom.
Currently, over 10 million expats work and live in Saudi Arabia under a system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and they must be issued an exit and entry visa whenever and where ever they want to leave the country.
In May, the kingdom’s Shoura Council had approved a “green card”-style residency scheme.
According to an Arab News report published at the time, the benefits on offer include the ability to recruit a number of workers; ownership of property and transport; jobs in the private sector, industry; freedom of movement and exit from the kingdom and return whenever; and the use of designated queues at airports.
Under the system, which requires a guarantee of specific sum of fees, there are two categories: an extended to some extent permanent iqama and a temporary one.
Eligible expatriates must have a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record.