Foreign nationals seeking short-term work authorisation in Saudi Arabia are currently unable to obtain a Work Visit Visa, following an unexpected decision by immigration authorities to replace the Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas with a uniform Visit Visa for Business.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ electronic system used by visa sponsors to obtain visa invitation letters continues to allow applicants to choose between Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas. Despite having a visa invitation letter for Work Visit Visas, applicants are issued Visit Visa for Business with the notification ‘not permitted to work’. This appears to be a practice in Saudi consular posts and visa service centres around the world.
Saudi immigration and labour authorities have not issued any formal notification withholding the issuing of Work Visit Visa which, until now, was the only immigration authorisation for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom.
With immediate effect, there is no option available for foreign nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia for short-term work other than the standard Work Visa, which triggers a formal long-term employment relationship with a sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia.
It remains unclear what is permissible and prohibited under the uniform Visit Visa for Business, including whether visitors can conduct hands-on technical activities, or if they are limited to performing ‘light’ business activities only (including meetings). It is also unclear whether Saudi immigration and labour authorities have made any provisions for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom, considering the only authorisation of this kind is no longer available.