Expats make up a large portion of the Saudi workforce, making corporate immigration an essential part of operating in Saudi Arabia. Most private sector companies bring employees from all over the globe to become a part of their team. Corporate immigration in the Kingdom has many requirements and regulations that most companies don’t have experience with. The process can be complex and most violations are unintentional due to a lack of knowledge.
Below are best practices companies operating in Saudi can use to ensure they are compliant in the long term.
Appointing a person to ensure you stay on top of new policies, laws and regulations will help you ensure that your company can address changes in a timely manner; to remain compliant and avoid violations or penalties. Many ministries in Saudi Arabia, such as GOSI, Ministry of Labour and Social Development and Absher, are active on Twitter and share updates there.
Management of your expat workforce is an ongoing process that requires resources and time. Once you’ve hired an expat employee the process doesn’t stop, there are visa renewals, Saudization and regulatory updates that can all affect a company’s expat workforce. Dedicating an employee or team to supervise the process will help you remain compliant.
Having corporate policies in place to ensure that the necessary procedures are undertaken can help your HR team manage your expat workforce. Ensuring employees follow these procedures every time creates consistency and transparency within the company. Having company policies will create one point of reference for employees, making the process smoother for those involved. These policies can cover visas, documentation, process, costs, FAQs and other relevant topics.
Hiring a GRO will help your company in completing any government-related tasks. Whether in-house or outsourced, a GRO will ensure that you are compliant and assist you in completing government requirements, ensuring documents are in their correct legal format, attestations, and visiting government offices where necessary.
Keeping employee immigration data in a centralized location with document copies, attestations and status of immigration will help companies stay on track with their corporate immigration compliance. Now, knowing when visas or licenses are expiring and when to submit renewals are a manageable process. Giving employees access to their records will also allow them to track their status of immigration and assist where necessary.
To consider corporate immigration, companies must review their Saudization requirements before relocating employees. Saudization will affect who can be hired and for which position. For example, in Saudi, all receptionist roles must be held by a Saudi national. When relocating employees to Saudi, it’s important to recognise which positions expats are able to hold and which are reserved for Saudi nationals, this will depend on your company industry.
Companies will need to evaluate their budget to determine if they can afford the fees associated with hiring expats. The work permit processing fee is set to increase every year until 2020 per expat and their dependent.
As corporate immigration is a standard part of doing business in Saudi Arabia for most private sector companies, having company policies to remain compliant shows your due diligence to comply with laws and regulations. It’s advisable for companies to create standard processes and policies that employees can follow to reduce delays and errors in the process.