Saudi Arabia Abolishes Kafala System To Attract Skilled Professionals and Investors

Saudi Arab has ended the decades-old Kafala system under which a migrant worker’s immigration status is legally bound to an individual employer or sponsor (kafeel) during the contract period. This move by Saudi Arabia appears to be an attempt to attract skilled professionals and investors in the country.

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The kingdom’s Shoura Council on Wednesday approved a “green card”-style residency scheme, reported Arab News.

The authorised draft of the new Privileged Iqama system will offer a raft of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Unlike the existing iqama system, such residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employer.

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The benefits on offer include the ability to recruit of workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry; freedom of movement and exit from the kingdom and return; and the use of designated queues at airports.

Under the system, which requires a guarantee of specific fees, there are two categories: An extended iqama and a temporary one. Eligible expatriates must have a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record.

The story originally appeared in Arab News