Saudi Shoura Council approves new ‘green card’ residency

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council on Wednesday approved plans to attract entrepreneurs and investors from overseas with a “green card”-style residency scheme.

The authorized draft of the new Privileged Iqama system will offer a raft of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Unlike the existing iqama system, such residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employer.

The benefits on offer include the ability to recruit of workers; ownership of property and transport; employment in the private sector, commerce and industry; freedom of movement and exit from the Kingdom and return; and the use of designated queues at airports.

Under the system, which requires a guarantee of specific fees, there are two categories: An extended iqama and a temporary one.

Eligible expatriates must have a valid passport with a credit report, a health report and no criminal record.

Last month, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced the launch of its Gold Card extended residence program.

The ministry called on consultants and agencies to analyze the possibility of providing incentives to beneficiaries.

The Gold Card program is part of the Quality of Life Program 2020, which was launched in 2018 by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.

The aim of the Gold Card program is to promote expatriates’ engagement with Saudi culture, and to increase acceptance of other cultures among Saudis.

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