Procedure to Transfer Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia

Once you are employed in Saudi Arabia, it is not possible to switch your job without his permission as iqama transfer procedure is too complicated. Iqama transfer rules keep on updating which makes the transfer of sponsorship a difficult subject.

1. Search for a Job 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 as iqama transfer rules are comparatively easier to follow.

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 guidance about the package to ask for. “Average Salary by Profession in Saudi Arabia

2. Final Exit or Transfer of Sponsorship

Although there are no iqama transfer rules which secure the rights of the expatriates in this regard, if you have your own visa, you are more likely to get a transfer. We have explained the iqama transfer procedure in detail below.

However, if the visa was arranged by your Kafeel (On his expenses) it is less likely that they would release you. In this case, you will have to go on a Final Exit and take another visa to come again in Saudi Arabia. Recommended: Procedure to get New Visa after Final Exit Visa.

Your sponsor has all the authority 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

3. Conditions for the Transfer of Sponsorship

The Ministry of Labor has imposed some conditions for the transfer of sponsorship. If anyone does not meet these conditions, his sponsorship would not be transferred. These iqama transfer rules have made iqama transfer procedure even more complicated

3.1 Employees with Expired Iqama

An expatriate would not be able to complete the process of transfer of sponsorship if the new sponsor to whom he wants to transfer has some employees with an expired Iqama.

3.2 Delay in the issuance of Iqama

The request for the transfer of sponsorship would not be entertained if the new sponsor has not issued an iqama of a newly hired employee within the first 3 months of his arrival to Saudi Arabia.

3.3 Delay in the payment of salaries

The transfer of sponsorship is not possible to a sponsor who has been paying salaries to his employees late. The payment of salaries is monitored through the Wage Protection System.

3.4 There are some countries whose residents are not allowed to transfer sponsorship in Saudi Arabia e.g. citizens of Thailand.

3.5 Nitaqat Category

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 the 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

4. Convince your current Sponsor for the Transfer of Sponsorship

Once you have a job offer letter in your hand, this is the time to start iqama transfer procedure by bringing your current employer into confidence. Now it depends upon the relationship you have with the decision-making people 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. Believe me; whatever is written in iqama transfer rules 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.

4.1 Notice Period

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.

However, 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 iqama transfer procedure 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

4.2 End of Service Benefits

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.

5. Online System for Transfer of Sponsorship

If your employer has agreed to transfer your sponsorship, the next step in the iqama transfer procedure is to go to your prospective employer to create a demand request in the MOL system. 

As per the online system for the transfer of sponsorship, 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. 

5.1 Cancellation of an Online Request to Transfer Sponsorship

In the only system to transfer sponsorship, there is a possibility that your prospective employer has created a request to transfer sponsorship; however, now you have changed your mind and want to cancel the request. As per iqama transfer rules, there are two possible ways of doing so;

  • You can leave the request as it is and request your current sponsor to not to accept it. It will automatically be canceled after 90 days of the request creation.
  • You can ask your prospective employer to withdraw the request to transfer the sponsorship from the system which would result in immediate cancelation of the request.

It is important to mention here that you would not be able to ask another employer to create a request for the transfer of sponsorship in the system if your current request is valid.

6. Manual System for Transfer of Sponsorship

The manual iqama transfer procedure is also valid but it is applicable only in exceptional cases when the online system does not work. It is important to mention here that other iqama transfer rules would remain the same even if you go with the manual system.

Documents required for iqama transfer

6.1 Demand Letter for the Transfer of Sponsorship

You need to get a demand letter from your prospective employer requesting your current sponsor to release your sponsorship in his favor.

6.2 Letters from the Current Sponsor

Your current sponsor will also give you two letters addressed to Labor Office as well as Jawazat allowing transferring sponsorship to the new employer. 

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.

7. Who is responsible for Iqama Transfer Fee?

Although employers are required to pay the Iqama transfer fee as per Saudi Labor Law and iqama transfer rules, it is a general practice in Saudi Arabia that almost 99.99% of companies don’t bear full charges of Iqama transfer.  

They only bear the charges equivalent to the amount payable as the 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

8. How to check the Status of Change of Sponsorship?

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 the 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.

9. Transfer of Sponsorship without the consent of the sponsor

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 per iqama transfer rules, 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.

10. Transfer of Sponsorship under Huroob

Although as per iqama transfer rules it is banned to transfer the sponsorship of an employee whose status has been set as Huroob; however, there is only one way to transfer the sponsorship under Huroob.