New rules for foreign workers in Saudi starting March 14, 2021

Henceforth, foreign workers will not need their employer’s permission to leave the country, change jobs or transfer sponsorship

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All major restrictions that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia used to impose on foreign workers have been lifted, as modified labor policies come into effect from March 14. Workers from outside Saudi Arabia can now change jobs, travel or even leave the country without the permission of their employers. Earlier, an attempt at any such action would have resulted in the concerned employees being declared fugitives. Now, if the employees decide to exist the country without permission, the action will lead to a process for terminating the contract.

The labour policies have undergone an overhaul with the objective of attracting good quality talent, ensuring more inclusiveness for Saudis and also improving the working conditions.

The current system requires foreign workers to work under a sort of bond with their Saudi employer, without whose permission they cannot leave the country, travel for a vacation, replace lost identity cards or even change jobs.

With the modified rules, they will be able to leave the country against payment for an ‘exit visa’, for which they will not require the permission or help of their employer.

They can approach the Saudi government for transfer of sponsorship, even if their present employer does not approve of the same.

However, these changes will not be applicable to the over three million domestic workers in the country, most of whom are foreigners and amongst those who suffer maximum abuse.