In an attempt to attract foreign skilled professionals and investors, Saudi Arab has abolished decades-old Kafala system under which a migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to an individual employer or sponsor (kafeel) during the contract period.
The kingdom’s Shoura Council on Wednesday approved a “green card”-style residency scheme, reported Arab News.
The authorised draft of the new Privileged Iqama system will offer a raft of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Unlike the existing iqama system, such residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employer.
The benefits on offer include the ability to recruit of workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry; freedom of movement and exit from the kingdom and return; and the use of designated queues at airports.
Under the system, which requires a guarantee of specific fees, there are two categories: An extended iqama and a temporary one.
Eligible expatriates must have a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record.
The story originally appeared in Arab News