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Travel tips: Getting second residency in Saudi Arabia

Finding a residence abroad is becoming very popular these days. People want to live overseas for several reasons. Some people want to have a second residency because they want to work abroad to earn a better salary. Some people move abroad to set up a business, and some want to get rid of high taxes. Apart from these reasons, there are several other reasons for what people are looking for a second residency. However, the most popular reason to find residency abroad is to establish a business, find an employment, and study. It is not only popular among citizens of developing countries but also in highly developed rich countries.

On the other hand, most of the countries have launched residency and citizenship programs; even some countries are selling their passports for sake of betterment of countries’ economy. This is known as economic residency and economic citizenship program. Buying residency or citizenship is no doubt, very expensive, but it is a fast track process. One doesn’t need to live in a country for several years to qualify for residency and citizenship; rather, a huge investment can bypass the whole lengthy process.

Caribbean islands, overseas territories of Europe and Britain as well as Latin American countries have various programs of economic residency and citizenship. Currently, Dominica is considered the cheapest country where one can get citizenship with an investment of ten million US dollars.

Following the growing trends of economic residency, gulf countries are also introducing their residency programs and making changes in their immigration policies and rules which are now foreigner-friendly. Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia are at the top of the list, which are offering economic residency programs to foreigners. We want to talk about a green cared style program of Saudi Arabia, which has been launched recently.

Getting Second Residency in Saudi Arabia:

GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, is well known for strict immigration policies and rules for foreigners. Furthermore, foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia has been exploited by Saudi Kafeel or sponsor for many years. Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich country, and its economy has been depending on oil resources for many years. Now, Saudi Arabia is shifting its economy on tourism and foreign investments in the fields other than oil resources. In connection to it, the Saudi Arabian government has recently launched a new residency program. It happened first time in the history of Saudi Arabia that foreigners can live and work without the need of any kafeel or sponsor. It is, no doubt a significant step towards giving freedom to foreign residents. It is going to stop monopoly of Saudi sponsors or kafeel.

The new iqama is called “Privileged Iqama.” It resembles green card of USA, said by Saudi Arabia’s Crown prince. It was Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who put forward the idea of green style residency in 2016, but the cabinet of Saudi Arabia approved it in 2019. According to Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad Bin Salman, new residency program is similar to green card but it is neither a green card in fact nor grants right to apply for citizenship of Saudi Arabia.

Types and Cost of New Iqama Residency of Saudi Arabia:

New residency iqama gives the right to live and work in the country forever. There are two major types of new residency status, Temporary Privileged Iqama, and Permanent Privileged Iqama. The actual difference between these types is iqama validity. Iqama validity means the period between iqama issuance and iqama expiry date.

Temporary Residency Privileged iqama is issued with one-year iqama validity.  An amount of SAR 100000 is charged for temporary residency iqama. It is valid for one year; however; it can be renewed every year.

Permanent residency privileged iqama is issued for an indefinite period. It has no expiry as it is permanent iqama. Permanent privileged iqama holder can live in Saudi Arabia for forever. The cost of permanent residency privileged iqama is SAR 800000.

What the Benefits of New Iqama Residency?

Although new iqama costs very high yet it has a lot of benefits and freedom. Some major benefits of new iqama are that privileged iqama holder can:

  • Work in any private company without kafeel/sponsor.
  • Start business under his own name.
  • Buy vehicles under his own name.
  • Buy property under his own name. (excluding Makkah and Madinah)
  • Bring his family to live in Saudi Arabia.
  • Get visit visa for relatives and friends.
  • Use separate queues at airports.
  • Leave and exit kingdom without need of exit/reentry visa.
  • Recruit employees for domestic work.

Requirements of New Iqama Residency Program:

Apart from the fee mentioned above, there are certain requirements which need be met to apply new residency status. The list of requirement is as follows:

  • Passport must be valid.
  • Police clearance certificate.
  • age must be 21 or above 21.
  • Medical fitness.
  • Enough financial resources.
  • if applicant is already living in Saudi Arabia, the existing iqama must be valid.

Although this iqama grants right to live and work in KSA forever, yet it may subject to cancellation if applicant provide false information during iqama application or commits serious offence in the country. To read much more about life in Saudi Arabia please visit

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