The Saudi government has approved a new special residence scheme, similar to the green card systems used elsewhere, which aims to attract affluent and highly-skilled foreign nationals, and which will be implemented within the next five years.
Unlike the present system, the ‘special privilege’ iqama (residence permit) scheme will not require applicants to have a Saudi sponsor. In addition, holders will be able to work, obtain visas for relatives, hire workers, own property and transport, and leave and re-enter the country without an exit/re-entry visa.
Under the new system, qualifying applicants will be able to choose either a permanent or a renewable one-year iqama, in return for a one-off fee.
To qualify, the applicant must hold a valid passport, be financially solvent, be at least 21 years old, hold a valid iqama (if applicable) and have a clean criminal record and a clear medical report.