Saudi’s new Iqama scheme rules out need for Kafil

Scores of Hyderabadis, like many other foreigners, in Saudi are overjoyed with the announcement.

By Author  |  Published: 16th May 2019  1:24 am

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia announced the long-awaited policy on Special Privilege Iqama scheme that allows Indian and other foreigners in the oil-rich Kingdom to live and work without the requirement of a Saudi Arabian national as sponsor, commonly known as Kafil.

It is different from the existing Iqama system, wherein a foreign resident needed a Kafil. Scores of Hyderabadis, like many other foreigners, in Saudi are overjoyed with the announcement. Approximately eight lakh Telangana NRIs are living in Saudi Arabia. “Indeed, its pleasant news,” Mirza Abdul Rahman Baig (40) of Hyderabad, who was born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, said.

The Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman here on Tuesday night, endorsed the recommendations of the Shoura Council, consultative body, and Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), the State news agency announced.

Last week, the Shoura approved the draft Special Privilege Iqama (residency permit) Law that aimed at attracting affluent people such as highly skilled foreigners and owners of capital funds with special treatment.

According to the new scheme, the holder of such an Iqama will have family status, and can obtain visit visa for relatives, recruit domestic workers, and own properties and means of transport, among other advantages. They can also travel abroad and return to the Kingdom without the need for the consent of a Kafil, which is mandatory as of now.

But, no fee amount and categories of professions that are eligible for the scheme were reveled yet. The scheme allows foreigners to make the payment of a special fee and approach the Center of Privileged Iqama, which will be established in three months, according to the announcement.

There will be two types of Iqamas — one for an unlimited period and the other for one year, which is subject to renewal. The new residency scheme — commonly referred to as the Saudi ‘green card’ — was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan to open up the Kingdom and diversify its economy. Since then it has been one of the hot topics among Hyderabadis living in Kingdom.