Saudi Arabia Allowed to Abolish Sponsorship System

Saudi Arabia is set to abolish its sponsorship system in the first half of next year, more than one million expatriates are expected to benefit from the move, according to a report in Maaal online business daily.

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Saudi Arabia Set to Abolish Sponsorship System

Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development will make the official announcement in this regard in the coming week. The historic initiative is aimed at improving the contractual relationship between employers and their expatriate workers.

The sponsorship system, which has been in force for around seven decades, will be replaced by a work contract that regulates the relationship between employers and foreign workers. The current system, also known as the kafala system, ties workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees visa and legal status.

The abolition of the sponsorship system would give expatriate workers freedom to secure exit and re-entry visas, receive the final passport exit stamp without a sponsor and gain employment without the approval from a sponsor.

The Ministry of Human Resources was expected to announce on Wednesday (Oct. 28) the major features of this initiative to improve the relationship between the expatriate workers and their employers with the abolition of the sponsorship system, but it was postponed for the coming week, as preparations are being made for this, including inviting international media persons to attend a press conference in this regard.

Saudi Arabia was supposed to announce the abolition of the sponsorship system during the first quarter of 2020, but it had been delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The final abolition of the sponsorship system comes as the next step after the introduction of Special Privilege Residency Permit (Premium Iqama).