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Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Old Jan 14th 2021, 6:59 pm
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Question Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Hi folks

So I am considering a potential offer to move to KSA from Canada for some fresh air (pun intended). I have been a lurker on here for a while so using other user posts for salary comparison I think the compensation is fairly reasonable especially given the current market. The job is with an international engineering firm that I am familiar with and the turnaround time for interviews etc. was pretty short cuz they need someone asap (its a commercial role on a design and construction project).

So while we await for the next steps regarding virtual client intro etc., I have a question (more to follow, I am sure) regarding the type of visas that western expats are entitled to. The kind HR lady is going to put me in touch with the relocation team shortly for more specific answers anyway but she mentioned that I will likely get a business visa, not an iqama. She also mentioned that with a business visa I would not be able to sponsor family nor would I be able open a bank account. Besides, my salary would also be deposited in my home country.

This is all very new to me so either she was not an expert on the visa side of things or I am missing something here. How could someone live in a country and not able to have a bank account? I just wanted to ask if this is normal in KSA or is there anything that I need to discuss with the employer to get sorted before we proceed further?

Thanks all in advance.
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Old Jan 14th 2021, 9:55 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Some go on a busoiness visa to work. Strictly speaking not legal. I wqould ask for an igama. If the company is suggesting this it means they fo not have an allocation of visas.

Business visa means single staus and no bank account. No recoursae when they deide to "let you go" because you are not an employee under Saudi Labor Law.

I would refuse, but some people are braver than me.

Last edited by scot47; Jan 14th 2021 at 9:57 pm.
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Old Jan 15th 2021, 3:38 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
Some go on a busoiness visa to work. Strictly speaking not legal. I wqould ask for an igama. If the company is suggesting this it means they fo not have an allocation of visas.

Business visa means single staus and no bank account. No recoursae when they deide to "let you go" because you are not an employee under Saudi Labor Law.

I would refuse, but some people are braver than me.
Ah thank you. That gave me something to think about and discuss with them when they reach out next time. I am not sure why would an international firm not comply with labor protocols but hey this is KSA we are talking about
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Old Jan 15th 2021, 4:11 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

If it’s an reputable international firm, then I wouldn’t worry at all. From my own experience in the Gulf it’s not unusual at all for companies - even multinationals such as Schlumberger and Fugro - to bring somewhere over on a business visa and then x weeks later apply for their residence visa, though it may require a visa run. Quite often this is down to making sure the company doesn’t potentially lose money in higher visa costs in case the employee decides to quit after 1 week.
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Old Jan 15th 2021, 11:57 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by psychopomp1 View Post
If it’s an reputable international firm, then I wouldn’t worry at all. From my own experience in the Gulf it’s not unusual at all for companies - even multinationals such as Schlumberger and Fugro - to bring somewhere over on a business visa and then x weeks later apply for their residence visa, though it may require a visa run. Quite often this is down to making sure the company doesn’t potentially lose money in higher visa costs in case the employee decides to quit after 1 week.
oh so eventually they do convert the business visa into an iqama? If that's the case then I think its a risk worth taking and I would have no issues with doing a visa run. Bottom line is as long as my employe rights (any that I may have in KSA) are protected.
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Old Jan 16th 2021, 7:50 am
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by Edo View Post
oh so eventually they do convert the business visa into an iqama? If that's the case then I think its a risk worth taking and I would have no issues with doing a visa run. Bottom line is as long as my employe rights (any that I may have in KSA) are protected.
Yep almost 100% guaranteed that any reputable employer will eventually get a residence/Iqama visa for you.
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Old Jan 16th 2021, 8:35 am
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

How do you spot the "reputable employer" ? International companies do not have a direct presence in KSA but operate through a sponsor or "kafeel". they are the ones who call the shots. Allocation of work visas in Saudi Arabia is subject to patronage or "wasta". You are treading on difficult ground. i would hesitate to go to KSA on a business visa unless I was really desperate. Or had solid evidence that the business visa would morph into a work permit and iqama.
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Old Jan 16th 2021, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by scot47 View Post
....Or had solid evidence that the business visa would morph into a work permit and iqama.
Is there any way to obtain some sort of assurance that the business visa would be converted into an iqama without pissing them off?
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Old Jan 16th 2021, 3:32 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by Edo View Post
Is there any way to obtain some sort of assurance that the business visa would be converted into an iqama without pissing them off?
Speak to your Line Manager, assuming its an expat. If he/she is on a residence visa, then you've got the answer you're looking for...

Last edited by psychopomp1; Jan 16th 2021 at 4:30 pm.
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Old Jan 16th 2021, 5:31 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by psychopomp1 View Post
Speak to your Line Manager, assuming its an expat. If he/she is on a residence visa, then you've got the answer you're looking for...
Hiring manager is definitely an expat but its the HR people that have taken over the process now. But in any case I am going to bring this up with them and will try to have it put in writing if possible.
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Old Jan 19th 2021, 9:49 am
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

I'm in a similar situation and will be in KSA in a week. Arriving on a business visa, iqama to be arranged by the company (big construction player) ASAP thereafter. I see no reason to be worried in the slightest.
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Old Jan 19th 2021, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

So we have ironed out the finer details and I wanted to share especially the visa part in case anyone would like to provide their thoughts.

My biggest reservations with being on a Business Visa were firstly, that the KSA Labor Law would not consider me as an employee (thanks scot47 for highlighting that); secondly, not being able to open a bank account in KSA (employer wanted to pay me in my home country which was a no no for me); and lastly, not being able to sponsor family members to visit me.

I was not successful in getting them to change their position on that however, we have agreed on an alternative solution - which is that for legal purposes they will make me an employee in the UAE. Therefore, my contract would be governed by the UAE Labor Law even though I would be working in KSA (I guess having some legal rights in the region would be better than having none ). This would also allow me to open a bank account in the UAE where my salary would be deposited in local currency after conversion (I know its gonna be a hassle to withdraw monies in KSA but hey, you win some you lose some).

On the accommodation part, I did find it really weird that if they provide a hotel for the first few weeks they would deduct 75% towards the cost from the monthly allowance. I have done a few relocations in my career and never has there been one when the employers didn't provide accommodation for the first couple of months.



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Old Jan 19th 2021, 8:38 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

OP, if you don't mind can you name your employer? Someone else (present or ex-employee) reading this thread might be able to chime in with their thoughts based on their own experience.
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Old Jan 21st 2021, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Questions re potential KSA offer (not compensation related)

Originally Posted by psychopomp1 View Post
OP, if you don't mind can you name your employer? Someone else (present or ex-employee) reading this thread might be able to chime in with their thoughts based on their own experience.
I would love to share the name of the company but unfortunately there are some people on here who also work there and this is not how I would like to have my first introduction with colleagues that I will be working with
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