Private sector firms in Saudi Arabia will be able to get instant visas for foreign workers, slashing the months-long application process.
The kingdom's Ministry of Labor and Social Development launched the instant labour visa service through its Qiwa electronic portal.
According to reports in Saudi Gazette, the move will enable private sector firms to obtain visa instantly instead of following the normal visa process which takes up around eight months.
The firm needs to remain in the medium green category for 13 consecutive weeks or 26 intermittent weeks during the past 52 weeks. Similarly, the firm needs to have a valid work permit and full compliance with the Wage Protection Program.
However, in order to be granted an instant visa, the company must be enrolled in the kingdom's 'nationalization program' and have registered an increase in its Saudi workforce. Only firms in the medium green category and above, in terms of "percentage of Saudis in the workforce," are eligible to use the service.
The kingdom has been attempting to reduce its reliance on foreign labor to see the Saudisation process turn into a reality. Nationalizing the workforce is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, so the most recent decision only applies to countries working in line with the kingdom's goals.
Companies fall into different categories based on what kind of work a company does, workforce size, and how many Saudis are employed by the firm. There are four categories: Platinum, green (which has three-sub categories), yellow and red.
In recent years, non-Saudis have seen fewer job opportunities available to them. The number of foreign workers declined by 6% in the first three months of 2018; more than 234,000 expats left the kingdom during the same period. In just 18 months, more than 800,000 expats had left the country.