There are still many job opportunities in this region for the newcomers as well as old people. However, it is not that easy to switch jobs in Saudi Arabia. Once you are employed somewhere and transferred your sponsorship to the new Kafeel, it is not possible to switch your job without his permission.
One may be thinking at this moment that if you have good relations with the employer and you leave him in a good manner, he will allow you switch job, but it is not the case every time in Saudi Arabia. As a general rule of law, you cannot transfer your sponsorship without the consent of your sponsor except in the conditions given in this link “Transfer of Sponsorship without Permission of Kafeel”. We have explained the procedure of transferring sponsorship in detail below.[irp]
Final Exit or Transfer of Sponsorship: Although there is no rule which secures the rights of the expatriates in this regard, if you have your own visa, you are more likely to get a transfer. Transfer means your Kafeel (Employer) will allow you to switch job. But if the visa was arranged by your Kafeel (On his expenses) it is less likely that they will release you.
If you want to switch a job, you will have to go on Final Exit and take another visa to come again in Saudi Arabia. This is the general practice in the job market of Saudi Arabia. Recommended: Procedure to get New Visa after Final Exit Visa.
However, Kafeel has full rights to send you on Final Exit even if you were initially transferred to him. However, there is only one situation in which you can enforce your right to get a transfer of sponsorship. We have explained it in this link “Legal Right to Transfer the Sponsorship from Employer”
Procedure to Transfer Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia: In order to switch a job in Saudi Arabia, first of all, you should know “how to search for a job in Saudi Arabia”. During the process of appearing in the interviews and getting a job offer, ask your intended employer if he can arrange a visa for you as per your case.
The work visa application process in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very difficult, lengthy and complicated. This is the reason, employers do not offer a new visa for the employees; they try to search for someone who has transferable Iqama.
Asking for a package or accepting a job offer can be dodging for you if you don’t know about the average salary of your profession in Saudi Arabia, I have published an article regarding this from which you can take a guidance about the package to ask for. “Average Salary by Profession in Saudi Arabia”
It is very important to check the Nitaqat category of your prospective employer. If you want to know what is Nitaqat system, we would suggest you read this article. Be noted that you can enjoy many benefits if your Kafeel is of the platinum category. The easiest way to check the status of the intended employer is to take Iqama number of any employee who is under the sponsorship of the intended employer. After that, you can check the Nitaqat Category of the Kafeel of that employee. We have explained it in the article “How to check Nitaqat Category of Kafeel”
If your current Kafeel is in Red Category of Nitaqat or you are meeting some other conditions, you can get your sponsorship transferred to him even without the permission of your current Kafeel, I have explained the procedure in this article. “Process of Transferring Sponsorship if Kafeel is Red“
Once you have a job offer letter in your hand, this is the time to bring your current employer into confidence. Now it depends upon the relationship you have with the decision-making authorities in your company if they will allow you to switch for the job. It is not an easy task to take a transfer from your employer so treat this matter very intelligently.
Here the matter of notice period comes into question. Notice period to leave a job is the notice period mentioned in your contract. In the absence of the contract, Saudi Labor Law prevails which speaks about the notice period of one month as the reasonable notice period. But your employer can ask about the notice period of a couple of months. You can request him but cannot argue in this regard. If this is the case, you should ask for some extension in joining from the new employer. Employers know about the job condition here so they give enough time and opportunity to employees to get a transfer. Read more about the rules related to Notice period in this link “Notice Period under Saudi Labor Law”
If your employer is comfortable in transferring your sponsorship, you are entitled to benefits as per your contract. As per labor law, you are entitled to get “End of Service Benefits”. We have explained in our article how to compute End of Service Benefits which will allow you to compute your entitlement.
Believe me; whatever is written in the books or laws about your rights is nullified when it is a time of taking a transfer from your employer. If you say that it is your right to get the transfer, maybe you will have to face the consequences of Final Exit. So, your attitude should always be requesting. Try to build some pressure from someone who has influential power.
If your employer has agreed to give you transfer, next step is to go to your prospective employer to get a demand letter requesting the current employer to transfer the sponsorship. This demand letter should be authorized by the chamber of commerce of the city where the office of the intended employer is situated.
As per online system, the new employer will send an online request to transfer sponsorship of the employee to the sponsor using MOL system. If you have paid the fee for the transfer of sponsorship and new employer has accepted the request, your sponsorship is transferred. You do not have to do anything. Just visit Jawazat to get your Iqama. However, many employers are not aware of this online system, they are still following the old system. If this is the case, you will have to follow the manual system explained below.
Your current sponsor will also give you two letters addressed to Labor Office as well as Jawazat allowing transferring sponsorship to the new employer. Along with giving these documents, the current sponsor will accept the online request sent by the new employer in the MOL System. The transfer of sponsorship is not possible without accepting the request online.
Government Relations Officer of the new company will process the transfer of sponsorship and will take the Iqama of the old employer from you. He will give you a letter signed and attested by the chamber of commerce that your Iqama is under the process of transferring of sponsorship.
It is the general practice in Saudi Arabia that almost 99.99% companies don’t bear full charges of Iqama transfer. They only bear the charges equivalent to the amount payable as first transfer of Iqama i.e. SR 2,000. Normally, there are charges of SR 2,000/- for the first transfer, SR 4,000/- for the second transfer and SR 6,000/- for any other transfer.
Now the question is, who will bear the expenses of transfer of sponsorship? Generally, the employer bears only SR 2,000 for the transfer of sponsorship. Any expense over and above this will be borne by the employee. Let’s say if it is your third transfer, you will bear SR 4,000 and employer will bear SR 2,000/-. However, as per Saudi Labor Law, expenses for the transfer of sponsorship are the responsibility of the new employer. Check this link for details “Iqama Transfer Fee under Saudi Labor Law”
The guidance to make payment of Iqama transfer fee is given in this link.
You can check the status of change in sponsorship anytime online on Ministry of Labor website. We have explained it in the article “How to check the status of Change of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia” When all of this is done, you are a legal employee of the new employer. Congrats on the new job and best wishes for your career.