In the 1950s, the sponsorship program (Kafalah in Arabic) emerged to regulate contractors’ and workers’ relationships. Under Kafalah, a migrant worker's immigration status was bound to a sponsor (Kafeel in Arabic) for a certain period. Over the period, the employer was given extensive rights regarding the mobility of migrant workers. The expat was permitted to work within the Kingdom as per the agreement with the sponsoring employer. However, they could not transfer or change the employer or leave the country without obtaining written permission from their current employer.
Besides the government, only the sponsor had the authority to secure the worker's residency and work permits and cancel such permits. The employer was expected to report to the immigration authorities if the migrant worker had quit his/her job to confirm that they had returned to their home country after the employment period's termination. If a worker was reported as absconding to the authorities, the worker might get deported to their home country.