Can I visit Saudi Arabia as a tourist?
Are you thinking of travelling to Saudi Arabia in the future? But you are not sure what type of visa you may require or better yet on how to apply for a Saudi Visa. This article will examine the different types of Saudi Visas and the intricacies associated with applying for each one. Hopefully, upon completion of the article the Saudi visa process will be demystified.
First and foremost a tourist visa does not exist for Saudi Arabia. Let me say this again, there are no tourist visas for any visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many people would like to visit the Kingdom as a tourist, but currently this cannot happen.
The most common visa gleaned from Saudi Arabia is a business visa. This entitles the individual to travel to Saudi Arabia to consult and conduct business on behalf of his/her company. Generally, the client in Saudi Arabia, also known as a host, will meet with the client to discuss joint business ventures. This is a relatively simple, straight forward visa to apply for. The host in Saudi Arabia will ask the client for a scan of his/her passport and will then proceed to apply for an invitation letter. This is accomplished by submitting the scan to the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once the Ministry has approved the invitation, it will be reverted back to the host company. They will in turn stamp the invitation with their company seal. Once all these steps have been completed, the invitation letter will be made available to the client. The client will then need to contact a registered agent, such as Travel Visa Pro, to facilitate the stamping of the visa at the Embassy.
Instead of a business visa, your host company in Saudi Arabia may offer you a visiting work visa. Quintessentially this is same as a business visa, but instead of just meeting with your host contact in Saudi Arabia, you will perform special tasks while in the country. You will still be paid by your direct employer and will not receive any compensation directly from the Saudi host.
A government visa will be issued to those who are meeting directly with Saudi Arabian government employees. This is a gratis visa and the invitation letter will list that you are authorized for a government visa. This visa is arranged the same way as a business visa.
A family visit visa is a visa which allows an individual to travel to Saudi Arabia to see as you can imagine a family member! This can be a wife, husband, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, or whoever is related to you as long as they can prove the relation. This can be established through a marriage decree, birth certificate, family tree, or any other official document. Once the familial chain has been established a family visit will be granted. The family member in Saudi Arabia will have to appear in person at the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will furnish a copy of the guests passport and apply for a familial invitation. The family member who applied for the invitation letter will now become the sponsor for the intended guest. A familial invite will be provided and this in turn will be sent to the guest. They will need to show this at the Embassy in order to apply for the visa. Generally, a family visa will be a single entry visa, valid for 30 days. If you intend to stay longer than 30 days, it is imperative that you inform your host about the length of stay you require.
A residence visa will be needed if you intend to live or relocate to Saudi Arabia. This is probably one of the most uncommon visas as not many individuals are invited to live in Saudi Arabia for a length of time. This is a special invitation which will come from the Ministry of Interior and is usually associated with work or those relocating to be with ones who work in Saudi Arabia. Many call the invitation the long yellow form, as it will always be yellow and is twice as long as a normal piece of paper. This invitation will allow the individual to travel to Saudi Arabia and once you enter the E gate immigration, you will be given an Iqama card. This card serves as your identification in Saudi Arabia and shows that you are a valid resident. It is recommended to keep this card on your person at all times.
By far the most difficult and complicated visa for Saudi Arabia is a work visa. This visa is presented to those who have been offered a work contract with a Saudi company. This is entirely different then a business visa, as a work visa means you will be paid directly by a Saudi firm. Getting a work visa is very lengthy process and will start with an individual having an interview with a Saudi recruiting firm, who will then refer your resume to a Saudi company. If the company deems the candidate suitable for their needs, they will furnish an employment contract. Once the employment contract has been accepted, the company in Saudi will provide the candidate with a visa block invitation letter, which will have the job title, type of passport held, and the corresponding visa number. Once the invitation letter has been received, the candidate will now need to complete the rest of the steps to apply for a Saudi visa. This will include a comprehensive medical exam, a police report, gathering the necessary certifications/degrees, and many other pertinent documents. It is in your best interest to contact Travel Visa Pro as soon as you have received the visa block, as they do expire in 60 days from issuance.
You can be offered a temporary work visa instead of an actual work visa. This is very similar to a work visa, but your contract is limited and will generally expire in 3-6 months. A temporary work visa will require an invitation letter from Saudi Arabia authorizing you for this visa. Once the contract has expired, you will return back to your host country.
Saudi Arabia offers two types of religious visas. Hajj and Umrah visas are available at their respective times throughout the year. There is no invitation associated with this type of visa, but only those who adhere to the Muslim faith may apply. In certain instances the Consulate may ask to see a copy of your Islamic decree from you local mosque. These visas can be obtained either by themselves or with an all inclusive package, which will have hotels, airline tickets, and transportation.
There are many types of visas categories for Saudi Arabia and it is important to consult with your host to make sure all of your demands are met. Equally it is as important to work with a registered visa agent of the Embassy and to make sure such agent understands the visa process. I can say with certainty Travel Visa Pro has such expertise!