Saudi Iqama

Cost, benefits and limitations of Saudi green card for Saudi expats

Privileged iqama (Green Card/residence permit)

Many people around the world and especially Saudi expats living inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are quite excited since they have heard the news of Saudi Green card launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Most of them want to understand what was the current system, how the current system is being introduced with some changes like the introduction of the Saudi Green card system for skilled and business class. 

In this article, We have discussed in detail for our readers all the required aspects that explain well the Old Kafala system, the new system of Saudi Green card, Benefits, Opportunities, Rights & Privileges and Restrictions in case of getting the Saudi Green card. The followings are the aspects which have been discussed in detail in this article for our readers:


  1. A brief explanation of Old Sponsorship / Kafala system
  2. Rights & Privileges under New Green card system
  3. Cancellation of Green card system
  4. Conditions necessary to meet before applying for Saudi Green card.
  5. Types of Iqama (Saudi Green Card / Residence permit) and their costs.
  6. Opportunities for Saudi expats and people around the world by availing the Green card.
  7. Restrictions / Limitations imposed under the new Green card system.

1) Old Kafala system No more compulsory required

The existing system of Kafala which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia possess requires the Saudi expat working in the country to stick to one sponsor, follow his guidelines whether you like it or no, depend upon him for getting the exit re-entry for yourself, getting the required letter in the sponsor’s name to open a bank account and even it is required if you are purchasing a car on lease through bank or a leasing company etc.

The above system sometimes gets annoying to the Saudi expats as it requires a large amount of time in getting the things done required. Due to the currently prevailing system, it sometimes discourages the potential investor as well.


When the Investor wishes to invest and build a business inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he has to undergo a lot of difficulties with the current sponsorship system.

All the business has to be done through the Kafeel, even the hiring for the new staff and their Iqama issuance is dependent upon him. Related: Saudi Arabia announces unlimited period of Iqama validity for Saudi expats


2) What will be the rights of Saudi Green Card Holder?

Many people want to know what rights & privileges they will obtain after investing in the Saudi Green card. Here you get your answers in detail.

  1. Privileged iqama (Green Card/residence permit) holders will not have to pay the dependent fee, according to the approval granted by the Council of Ministers.
  2. The privileged iqama (Green Card/residence permit) scheme, has already been approved by the Council of Ministers and has come in to effect from Sunday, May 20, 2019.
  3. The Saudi Green card holder can stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with his family based on the residence permit.

  4. The Green card will allow the holder to obtain the visit visas for his relatives
  5. The residence permit holder can recruit and hire the domestic workers
  6. He can own real estate units for residential, commercial and industrial purposes in all Saudi cities and towns except the holy cities of Makkah, Madinah and border areas.
  7. They can invest in real estate units in Makkah and Madinah for periods of up to 99 years.
  8. The Green card holder can work in any private establishment and freely switch jobs except in professions restricted to Saudis.
  9. Once anyone obtains the Saudi Green card, he can exit and enter the Kingdom freely without any restriction.

  10. He can use special passport desks designated for Saudi citizens at airports
  11. He Can practice commercial activities in line with the regulations for foreign investments
  12. Privileged iqama holders can keep followings with them as dependents
  • their wives.
  • daughters.
  • and sons who are less than 21 years of age.



3) What if someone wants to Cancel the Green Card / Privileged Iqama?

  1. Privileged iqama will be canceled if the holder is convicted of a crime for which he or she is sentenced to 60 days or fined SR100,000, or if he or she has to be deported from the country under a court order.
  2. It can also be canceled in case the data provided in the application is found to be incorrect.
  3. Holders can also voluntarily relinquish the privileged residency status if they wished so.



4) What are the conditions based on which the Saudi Green card can be obtained?

Once you finalize to go for the Saudi Green card, there are certain conditions that you need to fulfill before getting it actually. Those conditions are mentioned below:

  1. Whoever is applying for the Saudi Green card, he needs to present his valid passport to the authorities to proceed further.
  2. The age restrictions set in the regulations is that an applicant must not be less than 21 years old.
  3. The applicant of the Saudi Green card must present documents which provide sufficient reasonable evidence that he possesses the required financial resources as required for obtaining the Saudi Green card.
  4. The Police clearance certificate should be presented.
  5. The applicant must present his health certificate from the registered renown health centers and they must not be older than 6 months.
  6. If the applicant is a resident of the Kingdom, then his iqama should be valid
  7. Within 30 days of getting an approval, the applicant must pay the fees, present medical insurance policy.



5) What are the costs involved in availing the temporary or permanent residency (green card)?

Type of Iqama Amount
Temporary Iqama SR 100,000 ($26,666)
Permanent Iqama SR 800,000 ($213,333)


The Council of Ministers approved on Tuesday the Special Privilege Iqama Law that provides qualified foreigners a number of residency benefits.


6) What are the opportunities for Saudi expats by availing Saudi Green Card?

As we mentioned above, the current prevailing system does not motivate the potential investor but the new Saudi Green Card system launched by the system, the existing and the potential investors will enjoy the following opportunities:

  1. The sponsorship system will be put to an end for the investors and the potential investors can become Kafeel themselves. This means that the investors can hire the workers and related staff, issue their Iqama and provide all the required facilities by being as a normal sponsor.
  2. Earlier, the Saudi expats or the foreign investors were restricted and not allowed to purchase the properties in their own names while living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, upon the issuance of the new regulations, the Saudi expats who are a Saudi Green card holder as well can buy and own the properties.
  3. The new regulations also allow the Saudi expats or the Saudi Green card holders to rent out it’s owned properties to others to earn money.

  4. There will be two options for the Saudi Green card holder, either to get the temporary green card or permanent residency with an indefinite time period. The temporary Iqama holder will be required to renew the Iqama each year by paying the required fee, however, the other option holder will pay the required fee once for an indefinite time period.
  5. According to the recently published news, the Saudi green card facility will be available for the foreign investors and those who possess the skilled expertise.
  6. The above-mentioned facilities allow the Saudi green card holder to run any business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia without engaging or offering any partnership to the Saudi National.

  7. The educational and the health services will be available for the Saudi expats or the Saudi Green card holders as well, the complete details will be released soon.
  8. The Saudi expats or the foreign investors will now be able to file a request with the bank to obtain the required loan for their businesses.

7) Saudi Green Holders will not be allowed to do the followings

The Saudi expats or the Green card holders will not be permitted for the followings:

  1. The Green card holder would not be legally required to vote during any election in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  2. None of the public office can be held by the Saudi Green card holder or the Saudi expat.
  3. They would not be able to remain outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a long period of time.

  4. They would not be allowed to enlist in the Saudi Armed Forces.



Formation of special privilege Iqama center

A Special Privilege Iqama Center is being constituted as the sole competent body to regulate and manage everything related to the new Iqama.

The center will complete preparing the Executive Regulations of the law within 90 days, paving the way for issuance of the special Iqama.


The center, which enjoys financial and administrative independence, will announce all the details related to the Executive Regulations, and the mechanism of submitting applications and other relevant matters.

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Source: Saudi Gazette

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