Every country and company has its own mandate and set of rules for the employees working there. These rules are often revised regularly. Switching from one company to another is usually an inevitable part of a career. However, it is essential to understand and fully comprehend the rules and regulations that follow such a transfer.
This ensures that you are not uninformed, and as a result, you will not commit mistakes that result in drastic consequences. This article will discuss the new rules for Iqama transfers announced by KSA.
What Is Iqama?
Iqama is a legal document that establishes your credibility and identity as an employee who has been granted permission to live and work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Your sponsor or employer usually processes this document. Your employer applies for the necessary legal permits that allow you to work in the KSA.
What Is An Iqama Transfer?
An Iqama transfer refers to a change in the sponsor. This usually occurs when you switch companies. However, this process is highly complex. It primarily depends on the regulations of your present company and your employer’s willingness.
In addition, this transfer is charged. The total amount you have to pay is equivalent to the fee plus whatever additional charges your employer wants to levy on you. This process usually takes a few weeks to a few months. Therefore, it is essential to be spontaneous and quickly request for such transfers.
However, there is a predicament here. Not all Iqama are transferable, and the transferable ones are entirely dependent on your current sponsor. If your current sponsor disapproves of your request, there is no way you can get employed by a new company. Owing to this reason, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules that ease off the stringent laws.
New Rules For Foreign Workers
The year 2021 brought good news for all the foreign employees working in the KSA. From March 2021 onwards, you are not obliged to seek permission from your employer to leave the country, transfer sponsorships, or change jobs.
With the advent of these laws, you will no longer have to be dependent on your employer. These modified labor laws are brought into effect to attract talented workers from all over the world. Before 2021, if you tried to leave the KSA without the consent of your employer, you would be deemed a fugitive. However, these new laws offer foreign workers much-needed freedom.
This also counters our earlier discussed predicaments. If your employer is unwilling to transfer your sponsorship, you can approach the government of Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the contracts and bonds between employees and employers have to be digitized under the new laws introduced. These laws are being implemented to prevent expats from being exploited and discriminated against while also improving transparency.
These progressive and novel laws by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development will be revolutionary in making Saudi Arabia one of the biggest global competitors. These new laws are instrumental in improving the job mobility of foreign workers.
Conditions To Transfer Services Without Employer Consent
Expatriate employees are those individuals who live in a foreign country for employment and job purposes. Although the laws have become less stringent, there are some conditions for an expat worker to transfer services without the employer’s consent. An employee can only be eligible for this transfer if they meet these conditions.
These are conditions that employees must meet if they want to prosper from job mobility services.
- As an expatriate worker, you must be subjected to the KSA laws.
- Additionally, you should complete at least a year of employment with your present employer.
- The employee must have a well-documented work bond or contract.
- The new employer must submit the new job offer that the employee is receiving via the Qiwa portal of the Ministry.
- You must issue a notice to your present employer regarding the Iqama transfer stating the notice period.
If you as an employee are looking for an Iqama transfer without your present employer’s seal of approval, you should meet these conditions to benefit from the new laws.
- If a work contract is absent within three months of your arrival into the KSA, then you can apply for a transfer.
- If your present employer fails to pay your wages or salaries for three months consecutively, then you are eligible to apply under the new law.
- If there is a prolonged absence of your employer due to a myriad of reasons like traveling, death, or imprisonment, you are automatically eligible.
- Expiry of the Iqama.
- If you as an employee complain about the employer’s involvement in a tattasur which means an attempt to conceal evidence, you become eligible to apply for an Iqama transfer. However, you must note that you must not be involved in this cover-up with your employer.
- If you, as a worker, have solid evidence that your employer is part of human trafficking, you can showcase this evidence and instantly apply for an Iqama transfer.
- The present Kafeel agrees to this transfer.
- There are instances where you and your employer are in a legal dispute. Sometimes your sponsor appoints a representative to attend these proceedings in his place. If your present sponsor or his chosen representative fails to be at two litigation sessions, you can apply for an Iqama transfer.
Remember these conditions so that your present Kafeel or employer does not exploit you. Apart from you, your potential new employer is also eligible to apply for the Iqama transfer. Listed below are the conditions that they must meet.
- The employer’s firm must be eligible to obtain visas while following the rules and regulations.
- They should comply with the Wage Protection Program regulations.
- They should be in favor of the labor contract documentation and digitized contracts.
- They also must comply with the self-evaluation programs.
In addition to these laws, you must also be aware of the various processes involved, like checking your Iqama status. We will be looking at some of the specifics and obtain deep insights into the technical aspects from here onwards.
How To Check Iqama Transfer Status?
Here are some quick steps that we have come up with to facilitate this procedure.
Step 1: The first step is to go to the official site of the Ministry of Labor, and since this site is only available in the Arabic version, it is essential to adhere to these instructions.
Step 2: Once the site loads, select the fourth option from the menu. The option translates to Naqal Kafala.
Step 3: Once you are directed to the next page, select the second option. Now, you must fill in your Iqama number and then enter the image code in the visible text box. Once you are done with entering these details, click on the option at the bottom right.
Step 4: Once all this is done, you will find your sponsor name in the brackets. You can find other details like the Application Number and Date of Transfer on this page. By cross-checking these details, you can identify the status of your Iqama transfer.
How much will you be charged?
When you apply for these transfers, you will be charged certain fees. For a domestic worker, an Iqama transfer for the first time usually costs 600 SR, and renewal costs 350 SR.
If you are a worker above the age of 18, then the Muqeem insurance fee and renewal fee together sum up to 500 SR.
Similarly, your new Kafeel or employer has to pay 2000 SR when he appoints you for the first time. This fee is increased by 2000 SR for every new transfer.
When Is Your Transfer Request Rejected?
It is crucial to understand the circumstances in which the Ministry will reject your application. Therefore, check out these situations and try avoiding them to prevent being stranded in the KSA.
Workers whose passports have expired will automatically be rejected. Therefore, ensure that your passport is renewed well in advance before its expiry. If you also have a final exit or re-entry stamped on your passport, your transfer request will not be considered.
In addition, a worker with a criminal history or a worker who has violated the traffic rules or is a runaway is ineligible to be a part of this new initiative by the KSA.
Therefore, keep these pointers in mind before applying for a new job under the revised rules.
What To Do When Stranded?
In an attempt to make all the proceedings transparent, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has given exclusive rights to the stranded workers. These rights enable these workers to register on wafid.com.sa to find various jobs in private firms that match their caliber.
Applying For An Iqama Transfer Online
The Iqama can be transferred online with the requirements outlined below
The first step involves your new employer creating a transfer request of sponsorship through the Ministry of Labor (MoL) account. For this, you need to have your previous Iqama with you as a document of proof.
After this, your old employer must accept the transfer request on the MoL portal. Once this is approved, your details will be transferred to the new employer.
If you want to cancel an Iqama transfer, there are two possible ways to do so.
You can either leave the request for 90 days, and after this duration, the transfer of sponsorship becomes nullified and is canceled automatically.
If this method seems to be time-consuming, then your new employer can withdraw the application as well. This is pretty much an instant process.
Until now, we have looked at the various perspectives that the KSA is offering to foreign workers. However, the same modifications do not apply to domestic workers. Let us find out regarding their status in the present scenario.
Iqama Transfers for Domestic Workers
Domestic workers are native citizens of a country. These are the people who work in their own country and possess citizenship. Irrespective of the occupations they are in, these people are classified as domestic workers. Domestic workers is a term with two meanings, but in this case, they mean native workers. Therefore, do not be confused when we use this word with reference to this article.
The transfer of Iqama from an individual to an establishment is still banned. The vice-versa transfer is not permitted as well.
However, after a duration of 7 years, domestic workers are qualified to apply for Iqama transfers, provided they meet some conditions
If the domestic employee wants to undergo an occupation change, then an Iqama transfer is possible. Additionally, it should not have been renewed for more than one year at a time.
These rules and regulations might seem overwhelming at times. There are chances that you might feel lost or confused. However, you do not have to worry! At AstroLabs, we are dedicated to helping you understand these complexities. AstroLabs is committed to facilitating all these transformations. With this comprehensive guide, we hope most of your queries have been resolved. If you have any questions or require assistance with your iqama transfers, reach out to AstroLabs.
Set Up and Scale Your Business in Saudi Arabia
Join 450+ Companies Who Expanded to the Kingdom with AstroLabs