RIYADH: 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 be issued an exit and re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.
In May, the kingdom’s Shoura Council had approved a “green card”-style residency scheme.
According to a Arab News report published at the time, 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.