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Saudi Arabia: Expats rejoice as new Kafala system officially comes into effect

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  • Publish Date

    March 14, 2021

They can now enter and exit Kingdom without the need for an employer’s permission.

The Kafala system previously tied workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees’ visa and legal status but now improved reforms have officially come into effect.

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s expatriate workers will now be able to have job mobility and the freedom to enter and exit the Kingdom without the need for an employer’s permission, local media reported.

According to Al Arabiya, the country’s improved reforms on its “Kafala” sponsorship system officially came into effect on Sunday.

The Kafala system previously tied workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees’ visa and legal status.

Last November, the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced the country would implement new conditions for expatriate workers starting March 2021, with the goal of improving the Kafala sponsorship system.

Under the new conditions of Saudi Arabia’s Kafala system, expat workers will be able to transfer to other jobs upon the expiry of their work contract without the need for their former employer’s approval.

The newly reformed laws pertaining to foreign labor workers also include transition mechanisms during the validity of the contract, provided that the notice period and the specified controls are adhered to.

No permission needed

Expat workers will be able to travel outside Saudi Arabia, upon submitting an application, with an online notification to the employer without the need to seek prior permission.

A ‘final exit’ stipulation will also allow a migrant worker to leave immediately after the end of their contract, with an online notification sent to an employer without requiring his or her consent.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for human resources in November said the changes to the system aim to make the Saudi labor market more attractive.

“Through this initiative we aim to build an attractive labor market and improve the working environment through three main services available to all foreign workers in the private sector,” Abdullah bin Nasser Abuthunain said.

Kafala systems emerged in the 1950s when the GCC countries began hiring migrant workers at a rapid pace to accelerate development following the discovery of oil. Currently, it is also practiced in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.

Copyright: Gulf News Report – Tawfiq Nasrallah, Senior News Editor, Published: March 14, 2021, 14:14

Image: CTTO