Changes for Expats in Saudi Arabia
My next series of articles will focus predominantly on the new changes Saudi has put forth concerning its expat labor force. As some of you may or may not be aware, the Kingdom has issued a number of decrees in the past few months focusing on curbing the number of expats entering the Kingdom AND making life more difficult for expats already in the Kingdom. It is all in sync with the grand Saudization plan, which seeks to only have 2% of their work force consist of expats.
One of the first things to address is the issue of your host employer providing you as the employee round trip air-fare. Saudi Labor Law specifically states that Saudi employers HAVE to provide round trip airfare to their expat employees. Under this law the provision is given that expats may only use airfare from their initial sponsor and seeks to undermine the efforts of those who are deemed “sponsor hoppers”.
In layman terms, this means that those who enter the Kingdom sponsored by one host and then decide to leave and work for another host, will be subject to heavy fines if they take advantage of paid airfare.
The new rules are specifically meant to crack down on the number of illegals and sponsor jumpers in the Kingdom. In the news we have seen heavy Saudi crackdowns, which have resulted in deportations, fines, and imprisonments for those who are out of status.
Therefore, if you are caught and deemed as a “sponsor hopper”, you will be deported AND you will forfeit the right to have your return ticket paid by your sponsor. Meaning you will have to pay upfront to exit the country or incur more per diem fines.
In conclusion, it would prove to be in your best interest to purchase an open ended return ticket IF you intend to change sponsors and find yourself out of status. This will allow you to leave the kingdom with ease and you will not be liable for any fines