The new scheme was approved by the advisory Shura council earlier this month.
Thursday 16, May 2019 BY MUZORIWA KUDAKWASHE
The Saudi Cabinet has approved a special residency scheme, Privileged Iqama, similar to the green card systems applicable in other countries and it is aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats, according to local newswire, Saudi Press Agency.
Privileged Iqaba will allow wealthy and high- skilled foreign expats to choose between defined and renewable residency or permanent stay in return for a high, one-off fee.
The program will not abolish the sponsorship system, it will only exempt certain privileged foreigners from it, they will be allowed to invest and buy residential, commercial as well as industrial property.
Additionally, it will also allow them free movement, ability to own properties and to do business in the Kingdom.
Lina Almaeena, a member of the consultative Shura Council, said, “The special residency is for doctors, engineers, innovators, investors and residents who contribute to the development of Saudi Arabia and lead to a prosperous future.”
Currently, over 10 million expats work and live in the Kingdom under a sponsorship system (Kafeel) that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit/re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.
The cabinet also agreed that service centres will be opened within 90 days to process applications against certain fees, no specific fees amounts yet were mentioned in the announcement.
The announcement follow similar expats reforms across the region following the UAE’s approval of a plan to allow wealthy foreigners to apply for a 10-year stay, while other GCC countries passed laws that would grant some foreigners permanent residencies.
The Saudi green card system was announced in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and he said that the new system will inject billions of dollars into the national economy.