The profess for Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021 has been updated in certain aspects, about previous years. However, it is still a complicated process -to a certain degree- if the current sponsor does not accept the change. Alternatives are depending on the Nitaqat classification of the current and new employer.

In this article, we will describe the complete process to make this change based on the updated regulations in Saudi Arabia. Likewise, you can find out what a non-transferable Iqama means, the fees to be paid, and the new rules. Let us see:

1. What is a transferable Iqama?

2. How to check if you have a transferable Iqama

3. What is the procedure for Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia 2021?

4. Check the status of the procedure of Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia

5. What are the sponsorship transfer fees in Saudi Arabia?

6. What are the new rules for a Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia?

7. How can we help you with your Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia?

1. What is a transferable Iqama?

In this case, your employer releases you from continuing the employment relationship so that you can work for another company. In this way, with the Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021, you can continue working in the country without inconvenience. Nevertheless, Iqama professions rated as transferable or non-transferable are not strictly categorized.

However, some professions do fall within the non-transferable classification, such as farmers. The Iqama is a work permit that the employer manages to bring people to work in Saudi Arabia. In this sense, the company that hires the worker makes all the efforts and covers the expenses of the procedure.

This is an agreement with your employer that if you state that you cannot change jobs, you will have a non-transferable Iqama. Therefore, you will not be able to change your job in Riyadh with transfer Iqama, as you will be prevented by your current employer. However, you can work for another company if you are not restricted by the employer you currently work for.

Also, if you have worked for a long time in said company and your employer is willing, your Iqama is transferable. The change of sponsor is known as Naqal Kafala or Tanazul if it is a case of a Company Employment Visa.

2. How to check if you have a transferable Iqama

You can get an Iqama transfer request rejected if your employer established that you cannot change jobs. However, as indicated, it is a matter of an understanding between you and your sponsor (or Kafeel). In this way, you will be able to know if your Iqama is transferable or not, that is, if you will be able to change your sponsor.

Of course, this does not apply to those professions that are restricted for Iqama purposes such as farmers. You can check if a Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021 is possible within the HR department. You will be able to know if you are free to change jobs before accepting any job offer.

Also, carefully read the contract you have signed for your current company to see if there is a related clause. Therefore, if you find such a clause, you must stick to it and respect the terms of the agreement with your employer. On the other hand, if your employment relationship with the company has been good, they may be able to provide you with the permit.

2.1 Some exceptions for Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021

Some professions do not qualify for the Iqama transfer procedure in 2021 like the one we mentioned earlier, farmers. In addition, other professions are not eligible for this procedure, such as domestic workers. However, in this particular case, this applies for the first 7 years of such a worker.

3. What is the procedure for Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021?

The current process is not very different from the Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2020, as there have only been a few updates. You will see these updates later, now we present the process that you must carry out.

3.1 Find a new job

The first thing you should have is a new job offer or find one that offers you what you need. In addition, for many companies, finding someone who can transfer Iqama represents a great advantage. This is because granting a new work visa for a worker is a long and difficult process.

3.2 Verify the Nitaqat of both employers

The Nitaqat is a national Saudization scheme implemented in 2011 by the Ministry of Labor (MOL). Therefore, the next step is to check both the Nitaqat status of your new employer and current sponsor. In this way, you will be able to know if the category of the first is higher, implying greater difficulty in the sponsorship transfer. 

For example, if your sponsor has a RED Nitaqat status, such a transfer will be easier for you. In this way, you can get the transfer without the need to get the permission of the sponsor or Kafeel. To know the category of your IQAMA NITAQAT sponsor you can do it online.

3.3 Notify your current employer

The next step is to notify your current employer of your desire to transfer your sponsorship to find out if it is possible. Subsequently, as we have already mentioned, this will depend on your contract or your relationship with your current Kafeel. In the case of receiving an affirmative answer, the notice period begins if you must resign from work.

3.4 Obtain demand letter from new sponsor

The next step for the Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021 is a demand letter from the new sponsor. In addition, this letter must be delivered by the future company where you will work to your current sponsor. Likewise, this must be certified by the Chamber of Commerce in which the company where you will work is established.

3.5 Change the sponsor

At this point, the process of how to change a sponsorship in Saudi Arabia is easier as it can be done online. In this case, the new sponsor must send an application to the current one, through the Ministry of Labor (MOL). Then it only remains to get a new Iqama in which you indicate your new sponsor and your profession.

3.6 Processing the new Iqama

According to Iqama transfer rules, you must go to the Human Resources department of the new company. As a result, this process consists of handing over your old Iqama so that said department can process the new one.

3.7 Aspects to take into account

All these steps that we have described, you will only be able to carry out if your employer agrees to allow the change of sponsor. Also, consider that if the category of your sponsor is RED, the transfer is easier than with higher categories. Therefore, the Iqama transfer request validity will depend on the acceptance of the current employer.

As well, you must take into account a series of rules before making any request for this transfer (also known as Tanazul). Some of them are:

  • Not be involved in any type of crime.
  • You must not have any traffic violations at the time of transfer.
  • Your profession must be consistent with the business of the new company or sponsor.
  • Approval of your fingerprints.

4. Check the status of the procedure of transfer of sponsorship in Saudi Arabia

Employees need to know the progress of the Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021. They can do this after obtaining or transferring the work permit in Saudi Arabia (Iqama). In this case, they must be aware of the process, including the management and the name of the new sponsor (known as Kafeel).

In addition, said transfer process in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), includes two phases that correspond:

  1. The first stage takes place in the labor office and is supervised by the Ministry of Labor (MOL).
  2. The second proceeds from the Jawazat office and which, in this case, is supervised by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI).

In this case, you should check the status of the transfer and the new name of your Kafeel in the MOL records. To do this, you must enter the website of the Ministry of Labor to find out this information, as well as the transfer date. Therefore, in the process of how to change sponsor in Saudi Arabia, you can keep an eye on the same online.

5. What are the sponsorship transfer fees in Saudi Arabia?

According to the labor law, the new Kafeel is the one who must pay the Iqama transfer fees. Likewise, the general responsibility for the paperwork of the process must be carried out by the sponsor of the new employee. The fees are:

  1. The new sponsor must cancel 2000 SR for the first time.
  2. In the case of the second new sponsor, the amount is 4000 SR.
  3. For the third time, the amount will be 6000 SR.

Therefore, for a Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021, the fees will depend on how many times you have made the change.

6. What are the new rules for a Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia?

The HRD ministry of the country made certain changes to the regulations for the transfer of Iqama of a worker. In this way, people who want to change jobs and transfer Kafeel will have greater facilities to do so. Some of these changes are:

  • One of the amendments allows expatriates to request the transfer before 12 months. Thus, the previous rule determined that the employee must necessarily wait a year after entering the kingdom to change jobs.
  • Another restriction lifted is the one that demanded that the employee must notify the current sponsor 90 days in advance. Therefore, expats can change jobs at any time as long as their Iqama is transferable.
  • As well, the rules for transferring Iqama without the consent of your Kafeel have been updated.
  • Likewise, Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in 2021 can be done by the employee at the end of the employment contract. In this case, you do not need to obtain the permission of your employer and are therefore free to transfer.

Despite these changes, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development still maintains certain mandatory standards. For example, if the expatriate wants to make the transfer before the year, he must obtain the approval of the employer. Likewise, it must meet the requirements defined in the Nitaqat categorization system.

7. How can we help you with your Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia?

The Iqama transfer procedure in 2021 has not changed in many ways from the previous year. However, you must follow the procedure specified in the rules to comply with applicable laws. Therefore, you must know each of the elements that you must comply with if you want to change from Kafeel in the country. For this situation and many others, you can always get access to our legal services.

In this case, we can provide you with the necessary help through our advice so that you can carry out the process successfully. In addition, we offer you several services that you can contract for other labor or commercial matters such as:

With the help of our agency, you can rest assured that you can easily and legally establish your company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

setting up business in Saudi Arabia

Do you have any questions about the Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia under the newly established rules? Ask Company Formation Saudi! You can contact us through +971 43 316 688 and our representatives will be ready to assist you. Email our team at any time: contact@companyformationsaudi.com.

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