Saudi Arabia allows quarterly renewal of residency permits for foreign workers

Expatriates in Saudi Arabia can now renew their residency permit (iqama) on a quarter-of-a-year basis and save a digital copy of the iqama on their smartphones.

These services available on Absher Afrad (Individual) platform are among a series of electronic services, mainly related to the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) and the Traffic Directorate, launched by Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif on Wednesday.

The Absher Afrad services also included the expatriate’s consent service to allow transfer of his services to a new employer and the registration of dependents and companions of expatriates on the Absher platform on the basis of their border entry number or the iqama number of expatriates.

This registration service will also be available for visitors and citizens of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

Expatriates can have Resident ID electronic card service so as to enable them to keep digital iqama on their smartphones.

Saudi banks recently started updating their government payments system for the issuance and renewal of iqamas, which are linked to work permits, for three-month and six-month periods.

According to the recently updated government payments system, iqama fees can be paid on a quarterly- or half-yearly basis. This will facilitate completing the procedures of issuance and renewal of iqamas for the required period through the online platforms of Absher Business, Muqeem, and Qiwa under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

According to the recent amendments in the government payment system, banks will accept the payment of the fee for the work permit by the employer for a minimum three-month period or its multiples up to a whole year. The issuance and renewal of iqama are linked to the work permit.

Employers shall make payment of the expatriate fee for the renewal of the work permit, which is SR800 per month or SR9,600 in a year. Expatriates who have dependents shall have to pay SR400 per month for each dependent.

The new Absher Afrad services also included renewal of the national ID service, issuance of electronic ID in place of the lost one, passport services for foster families, and Absher reports service.

Digital driving license launched

Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz also launched several online traffic services. These included the digital driving license; the unified registration service for driving schools; the vehicle repair permit service, electronic traffic warranty service, as well as firearms license registration service.

The minister opened several services of the Internal Absher platform designated for the employees of the Ministry of Interior. He also launched a number of new electronic services for the Maidan platform dedicated to security men deployed for field duty. These include recording traffic accidents from the field; verifying the owner of camels by reading the slides; verifying permits for Hajj, Umrah and prayer at the Two Holy Mosques; and checking the health status of people by security men.

The minister launched the services on the sidelines of the seventh Absher Forum for Electronic Transactions held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh. These services are aimed at providing more flexibility in completing the procedures online without personally approaching the Jawazat and other government offices.

In his speech, the minister emphasized the keenness of his ministry to achieve digital transformation in all its procedures and services and enable all its partners from the ministries, government agencies, the private sector and individuals to access data and services in a secure digital mode. He said the services come within the framework of achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 programs.

“Technology and its uses have become a basis not only in our public life, but in practical and private life. Since technology entered the field of work, transactions and dealings, it has led to great results in terms of speed, accuracy, and productive efficiency,” he said while emphasizing that the Kingdom was keen to adopt the digital transformation of the government, so that the achievements in the field of technology can be continued in an unprecedented way in order to reach the goal of a smart government.