Saudi Arabia – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: October 16th, 2020

Entry testing requirements changed for foreign nationals

What is the change?

Saudi Arabia has changed COVID-19 testing requirements for foreign nationals entering the country.

Key Points:

  • Upon arriving, foreign nationals must now submit a negative test certificate from a PCR COVID-19 test conducted at a verified laboratory outside Saudi Arabia no more than 72 hours before departing. The previous requirement was no more than 48 hours before departing.
  • Travel restrictions were lifted on Sept. 15 for some Saudi citizens, citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens and foreign nationals with valid exit and re-entry visas, work permits, resident permits or visit visas.
  • The testing requirement changes will allow foreign nationals who wish to enter Saudi Arabia more time to get tested and receive their results.

Update: October 13th, 2020

Saudi embassies in certain locations resume accepting visa applications

What is the change?

Saudi Arabia has resumed visa processing at embassies in nine Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Key Points:

  • Saudi embassies in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates have resumed accepting visa applications.
    • Algeria: Processing of all visa applications has resumed.
    • Bahrain: Processing of all visa applications has resumed.
    • Egypt: Processing of all visa applications has resumed except for work visas. Currently, work visa applications are only being accepted for doctors.
    • Jordan: Processing of all visa applications has resumed.
    • Kuwait: Processing of all visa applications has resumed.
    • Lebanon: Processing of visa applications has resumed, the types being processed still need to be confirmed.
    • Oman: Processing of all visa applications has resumed, except for tourist and transit visas.
    • Tunisia: Processing of all visa applications has resumed.
    • United Arab Emirates: Processing of all visa applications has resumed, except for tourist and transit visas.

Saudi Arabia recently lifted entry restrictions for certain travelers, including foreign nationals with valid exit and re-entry visas, work permits, resident permits or visit visas, in the middle of September.

The resumption of visa application processing at the Saudi embassies will allow greater movement of people into Saudi Arabia.

Update: September 23rd, 2020

Easing of travel restrictions announced

What is the change?

Saudi Arabia has lifted some of its COVID-19 entry restrictions and intends to completely lift them for Saudi citizens on Jan. 1, 2021.

Key points:

  • Restrictions on travel by air, land and sea were lifted on Sept. 15 for the following Saudi citizens, allowing them to leave and return to Saudi Arabia:
    • government employees (including military) assigned official duties
    • Saudi diplomatic and consular missions personnel
    • regional and international organizations staff and their families and companions
    • public, private or non-profit facilities employees in permanent jobs outside the country
    • those employed in companies or commercial institutions outside the country
    • business people who must travel to conduct their business
    • marketing and sales directors who must visit their clients
    • medical patients in need of treatment outside the country such as cancer and organ transplant patients
    • scholarship students
    • self-funded students and medical fellows whose studies and training must take place outside the country
    • those traveling for humanitarian reasons, including those who are seeking reunification with family members outside the country or who must travel because of the death of a close family member; and
    • athletes in regional and international official sporting events, including team staff.
  • Citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will be allowed to enter and exit the Kingdom.
  • Foreign nationals with valid exit and re-entry visas, work permits, resident permits or visit visas may now enter and depart Saudi Arabia.
  • All travelers entering Saudi Arabia must show a negative COVID-19 test certificate from a test taken no more than 48 hours before entry from a reliable testing facility outside Saudi Arabia. They must also follow COVID-19 preventative health measures.
  • Travel restrictions by air, land and sea will be completely lifted for Saudi citizens after Jan. 1, 2021. The government will announce the specific date in December.

Saudi Arabia first suspended international flights in March.

The partial easing of restrictions for certain travelers will allow greater movement of people into and out of Saudi Arabia. It is isn’t clear yet exactly when all travel restrictions will be lifted for Saudi citizens but the exact date is scheduled to be revealed in December.

Update: July 27th, 2020

Residency permit, exit, return visa extensions

What is the change?

Saudi officials have approved extensions of residence permits, visitor’s visas and exit and re-entry visas.

Key Points:

  • Expired residence permits and exit and re-entry visas will be extended for three months for foreign nationals who are currently outside of the country.
  • Expired residence permits and visitors visas will be extended for three months for foreign nationals who are currently in Saudi Arabia, provided their permits expired during Saudi Arabia’s suspension of international travel because of COVID-19.
  • For foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia, exit and re-entry visas that were not used and expired during the COVID-19 lockdown will be extended three months.
  • Exit and re-entry visas will be extended three months for foreign nationals outside the country who were unable to travel to Saudi Arabia because of COVID-19 entry restrictions.

The extensions will be provided automatically and free of charge. The exact expiration dates of permits covered by the extension have yet to be announced. Deloitte will provide more information as it becomes available.

The extensions are good news because they provide relief to individuals who were prevented from entering or exiting Saudi Arabia because of pandemic-related restrictions.

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Fatia Bouteiller

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