Moving to Saudi Arabia for expats in 2021 – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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What is the secret of Saudi Arabia’s success? Why is this state one of the most powerful economic systems in the world? The answer is simple. Of course, it’s about oil.
However, it cannot be said that the people of the country were just lucky, and they did not make any effort to reap the benefits of such natural wealth. Even the largest reserves of oil and gas cannot be developed without the appropriate level of the extractive industry.
Currently, Saudi Arabia has all the infrastructure necessary for life. Even such a specialized place as a veterinary clinic in it is particularly reliable. After all, every person wants his pets to be in the best condition. Qualified veterinarians will provide the best possible care for your pet.
However, one should not think that milk rivers flow between the jelly banks in Saudi Arabia. The focus of the entire economy on the extraction of natural resources does not have a very good effect on the rest of its industries. As a result, a huge amount of goods have to be imported from abroad. Finally, many residents fear that it will be worse, as the latest data show that the state of the economy raises certain concerns.
Later in this article, we will try to understand how you can move to this country, become a resident and after getting citizenship.
What you should know about the country?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula and is washed by the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. This country has the largest oil reserves. It is difficult to obtain Saudi Arabian citizenship, but under certain conditions it is possible.
Saudi Arabia is far from the most desirable country for expats. Nevertheless, of the 26 million population of the country, 10 million are foreigners for whom emigration was an opportunity to change their lives for the better. But, before deciding to move, you need to be prepared for a number of negative moments of life in Arabia.
The country has a rather hot climate. The average July temperature is plus 30 degrees. In summer, the thermometer often rises to fifty degrees.
It is a religious country where the observance of external norms of behavior is controlled by special police. In addition, public display of any religion other than Islam is severely persecuted.
In Saudi Arabia, there are serious gender restrictions; women are significantly limited in their rights.
In terms of its political structure, this is an absolute monarchy, in which there is no place for parties and public organizations.
It is difficult for a European to adapt to the mores and customs of Saudi Arabia; it is easier for people from Muslim countries to do this.
Moving to Saudi Arabia for permanent residence, as a rule, is associated with purely pragmatic considerations, since here:
- high salaries;
- low crime rate;
- cheap gasoline;
- low taxes;
- good pension provision;
- high level of medical care;
- there is an opportunity to get a good medical education.
Saudi Arabia citizenship is possible for people who invest in the country and conduct their business here, as well as for specialists in the most demanded sectors of the economy (oil refining, information technology, telecommunications, banking).
It also welcomes promising students who wish to study at local universities and those who are married to a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
What are the main methods for moving to Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia authorities has a few options for expats to move to their country, which is definitely familiar to you, let’s see each of them and try to understand.
You can emigrate to a country if a foreigner invests certain funds in its economy. And investing in a local business is extremely profitable because:
- there is a developed economy;
- loyal legislation;
- positive attitude towards foreign investors;
- favorable terms of taxation;
- stable political system;
- convenient commercial location of the country;
- high quality of life.
All this prompts the investor to leave his country and settle in Saudi Arabia. And for this you need to submit the following documents:
- a copy of the investment certificate;
- birth certificate;
- certificate of religion;
- health certificate with all vaccinations and tests;
- passport and its copy (valid for two years);
- certificate of residence.
After preparing all the documents and paying a fee of $ 22, a visa is issued for three months, and then a residence permit. Citizenship cannot be obtained by a resident of Canada, even if he is an investor.
In Saudi Arabia, professions related to oil production, oil refining, as well as high technologies are always in demand. Employers are not very willing to hire foreigners, because the government of the Kingdom imposes quite serious duties on employers:
- issue an entry permit for an employee;
- pay for his visa;
- pay a “tax on the have-nots”, this compensates for the loss of a job by a local resident who could have occupied this position instead of a foreigner;
- the employer, at its own expense, provides housing to the invited employee or compensates for losses incurred in connection with the rental of housing;
- acts as a surety for the invited employee;
- certifies the agreement in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chamber of Commerce.
All this is burdensome for the employer and forces him to turn to such a form of hiring when it is impossible to find the right specialist in his country. And often it is narrow specialists in a certain area of the economy that are absent among the local residents of Saudi Arabia itself, so this method of obtaining citizenship for foreigners is the most likely.
The Saudis themselves prefer that their children receive higher education abroad, but at the same time, they have good universities in the country that provide an excellent education due to the fact that they often invite the best specialists from around the world.
Until recently, only a few universities and other higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia accepted foreign students. Now the situation has changed, and 25 universities of the country are inviting foreigners to them, offering rather preferential and favorable conditions.
The cost of studying for a bachelor’s degree at the capital’s University of King Saud is $ 1000 a year. The most expensive universities in Saudi Arabia are Alfaisal University ($ 20000 a month) and Prince Sultan University ($ 15000 a month).
In addition to low pay, there are other attractive aspects of studying in Saudi Arabia:
- a scholarship is paid, and an increased one for excellent students;
- free accommodation, meals are provided, travel around the country is reduced by 50%;
- upon admission, the issuance of lifting money for the arrangement;
- free medical care in university clinics.
In many universities, teaching is conducted in English. So even ignorance of Arabic will not make it difficult to study in Saudi universities. In order to study at universities in Saudi Arabia, you need to obtain a student visa, and for this you need to provide the following:
- a document confirming that a study place is assigned to you at this university;
- medical certificate;
- travel permit from the government of the country;
- police clearance certificate;
- birth certificate original and copy;
- passport (valid for at least two years).
Having provided all these documents, the student receives the required study visa.
After studying in Saudi Arabia for 4 to 7 years (bachelor’s and master’s degrees), if you wish, you can not only get an education but also find an employer who will be interested in the services of a young specialist. In the future, this will help to become a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
Another way to obtain Saudi Arabian citizenship is to marry a citizen of the Kingdom. This method is mostly acceptable for the female half. Women can marry a local.
Another option, when a Saudi woman marries a foreigner and gives him the opportunity to obtain citizenship, is unlikely, although not excluded. If from such a marriage there are children born in the territory of Saudi Arabia, then they have every right to obtain citizenship of this country. In this case, it is necessary that the following conditions are met:
- knowledge of the Arabic language;
- having a residence permit at the time of reaching the age of majority;
- excellent behavior and no criminal record;
- an application for citizenship, written within a year after the onset of majority.
When all these rules are observed for a person born of a Saudi mother in the Kingdom, it is quite possible to obtain citizenship. It is now the most likely way to obtain citizenship through marriage for those who entered into it before 2010.
It was in this year that it was decided that any Saudi or Saudi woman who married a foreigner would pay a fine of $ 27,000. But still, a person who was born in a mixed marriage has a high probability of obtaining citizenship.
Saudi Arabia, like many countries in the Arab East, has a fairly large number of foreigners who work in the country, study or are married to local residents. But it is not so easy to obtain citizenship in this country, although 39% of its population are foreigners.
The culture of Saudi Arabia is infused with Islam. There are many taboos in the Kingdom that foreigners, especially Europeans, will find difficult to adapt to. Watch a special report on life in this country.
How to get Saudi Arabian citizenship: registration procedure
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest state on the Arabian Peninsula, with colossal oil reserves. The Arab monarchy is distinguished by strict laws and special religiosity. The country is not as hospitable to foreign citizens as, for example, the UAE, although more than 30% of the population here are foreigners. Therefore, Russian and Ukrainian emigrants rarely consider KSA as an option for moving.
Since 2019, the government of the Kingdom has announced some innovations in immigration law, opening up additional opportunities for obtaining Saudi Arabian citizenship. How to legalize in this practically closed country? Is it possible to get a Saudi Arabian passport for immigrants from the countries of the former CIS?
Conditions for obtaining citizenship
Many people think that it is impossible to acquire Saudi Arabian citizenship, but in reality, the monarchy has passed the Saudi Arabian Citizenship System law, which establishes a certain procedure for legalization for foreigners. On its basis, it is possible to become a citizen of the KSA through birth and descent, marriage to a Saudi, which we have already discussed, or by naturalization.
Birth or origin
If the child is born to a Saudi mother and a non-Saudi father, he will receive Saudi Arabian citizenship upon reaching the age of majority (18 years old). At the same time, the applicant must be fluent in Arabic, have a permanent residence in the country, and the maternal grandfather must be a Saudi. Children born to unknown persons are automatically granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, but until the identity of their parents is established. A child with a Saudi father also receives Kingdom citizenship. In all cases, the King’s approval is required to obtain a passport.
Saudi Arabian citizenship is available to naturalized foreigners. To acquire citizenship, you must live continuously within the Kingdom for 10 years, 5 of which – in the status of permanent residence, without traveling abroad for more than six months. In addition, the country has a rather complex scoring system for evaluating candidates. The calculation takes into account: education, religious affiliation, level of Arabic language proficiency, born children, law-abidingness, and family ties. The maximum number is 33 points, the applicant must score at least 23. Due to opposing religious views, immigrants often lack the points to apply for a Saudi Arabian passport.
More about premium residency program
In 2019, the Saudi authorities announced the issuance of permanent residence to foreigners as part of the Premium residency program. An immigrant over the age of 21, healthy and without a criminal record, who has confirmed financial solvency, can apply for an “unlimited” residence permit.
For permanent residence, you will have to pay $ 213 thousand, and for a permit renewable for 1 year – $ 26.7 thousand. This scheme allows premium visa holders to:
- buy real estate;
- create new businesses;
- freely change jobs;
- leave the KSA without additional permission;
- sponsor a family member visa.
Previously, visa regimes were very strict, for any action an immigrant had to obtain permission from local sponsors (for example, employers). For the KSA, as a state with very strict immigration law, this step was a great achievement. The Kingdom is trying to attract foreign investors in this way, in the conditions of “sluggish” economic growth.
The new scheme makes it easier to obtain business, property, and vehicle licenses. Under the same program, foreigners holding managerial positions with a salary of $ 8,100, with higher education and 5 years of work experience receive the right to a “life-long” residence.
At the end of 2019, the authorities of the monarchy announced their readiness to provide passports to talented foreigners. The kingdom is interested in competent specialists in the field of medicine, high technology, renewable energy, artificial intelligence. Honored workers of art, culture, and sports will also be affected by the law. The basis for the applicant will be awards, professional certificates, and facts of world recognition.
The detailed procedure for obtaining citizenship
Having moved to the KSA on one of the immigration visas, a foreigner draws up a residence permit valid for 1-2 years with subsequent prolongation. At the stage of obtaining permanent residence, immigrants pass tests on knowledge of legislation, religious traditions, and Muslim life (in English or Arabic).
After 10 years of permanent residence (5 with a residence permit + 5 with a permanent residence), you can apply for a Saudi Arabian passport through naturalization. All applicants pass a point assessment, additional benefits:
- 10 years of permanent residence in the country – 10 points;
- bachelor’s education – 5, master’s – 8;
- the presence of Saudi children – 2 points;
- high medical or engineering qualifications – 13.
In addition, the applicant collects a voluminous package of documents, confirms his religious affiliation and knowledge of the Arabic language. The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister, who is advised by the Foreign Ministry.
Applications are considered on an individual basis, but the application may be rejected without explaining the reasons for the rejection. Dual citizenship in Saudi Arabia is prohibited.
The package of documents for Saudi Arabian citizenship will vary, depending on the immigration category of the applicant. In the general list of required securities:
- passport and photo;
- police clearance certificates;
- family composition documents;
- papers on income and place of residence;
- test results in Arabic;
- recommendations from local religious institutions;
- documents confirming the legality of stay in the state;
- Residence permit or permanent residence, with the calculation of the required 10-year period of residence;
- medical certificates with notes about the absence of certain diseases.
Additional documents and reputational characteristics may be required. All papers are translated into Arabic. The term for consideration of applications is 6-12 months.
What does Saudi Arabia citizenship give?
The status of a citizen of Saudi Arabia makes it possible to live in a state with an excellent level of medical care and low crime. The country has high salaries and low taxes, cheap gasoline, and excellent retirement benefits.
The capital of the Kingdom of Riyadh is one of the safest cities in the world to live in. With a Saudi Arabian passport, you can freely travel to 79 countries of the world, and the country’s location in the very heart of the Middle East makes it easier for travelers and contributes to the democratic cost of international travel.
However, it can be difficult for immigrants to get used to the hot, harsh continental climate, rigid norms of public behavior, gender restrictions, and a conservative dress code. Not everyone is able to live with the mores and customs of the Saudis, formed under the influence of Islam.
Foreigners deciding to move to KSA should carefully study local regulations and make sure they are ready to follow strict rules. Saudi Arabian citizenship is very rarely given to foreigners from states with a different religion, so those wishing to move to a country in the Middle East should prepare for the difficulties of immigration and serious changes within themselves.
To conclude this article, let’s see a few short points that prove the real advantages of being a Saudi Arabian citizen:
- Indefinite stay on the land of Mecca and Medina.
- Opportunity to obtain a piece of land in Mecca and Medina.
- Enough good job offers.
- Ease of starting a business.
- Ease of accessing to many countries around the world.
- Pension benefits.
- The absence of dependent commission or any other commission.
- Free education and health-related services.
Being a Saudi Arabian citizen will give you many benefits, but first of all, you have to be familiar with their culture, country’s traditions, and their religion restrictions on many things.
We hope this detailed guide on how to become a Saudi Arabian citizen or resident helped you somehow on orientating on your further steps. The good news is that Saudi Arabia allows foreigners to become their citizen, unlike the UAE, where you have no chances. If you are a good specialist, or you have money and want to invest, or you are a talented student, the country will welcome you with pleasure.