New regulations regarding Transfer of Sponsorship

To anyone residing in, or who has visited the Kingdom, it is common knowledge that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is host to one of the largest expatriate population from all over the world. The expatriate population of the country makes up to around one-third of the total population in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, like any other country, has a specific set of rules to which these expatriates must adhere to if they want to live in the Kingdom, these rules range from Visa regulations to residence permits and everything in between. Laws and regulations, however, become outdated or there is a need to change them or alter them for any other reason.

Such is the news that is coming from the Kingdom today as reports of another change in the rules have been implemented which are set to be directed at the employers, yet has a major impact on the professional lives in the Kingdom of the expat. The government of Saudi Arabia has revealed some new rules and laws related to transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia. We have already explained the procedure of transfer of sponsorship in Saudi Arabia in this article, “Transfer of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia”. It has been announced that the Ministry of Labor has just barred all the private sector companies from the transferring of any expat employees at short notices. In the local lingo, the transfer of sponsorship is known as Naqal Kafala.

However private sector companies do have the option of applying for requests of transferring of sponsorship, which as previously mentioned is called Naqal Kafala in local terms, however, they will only be allowed to apply for one transfer once in a period of three months. The ministries new regulations had been announced on Saturday. The Ministry of Labor has stated that any such requests by private companies will take a time of three months to process completely during which the same company cannot apply for another transfer. The new regulations by the ministry also specify that the private companies can also not file any requests for the transferring of sponsorship if the companies Nitaqat category is negatively or adversely affected by the transferring of the sponsorship. Source: Arab News

New rules for the transfer of sponsorship also state that now the Kafeel who has already issued release papers to the employee can still lodge an objection against the transfer of sponsorship of the employee within 5 days of the start of processing for change of sponsorship. Although the new rules related to the transfer of sponsorship are welcomed in all the Saudi circles but this decision has been taken in another way by the expatriate communities. Source: Arab News

For those who do not understand, then for example, if a company’s Nitaqat rating is currently at green which means good, and if the transferring of sponsorship will cause the rating to turn to yellow i.e. demote or lower the Nitaqat rating then any sponsorship transfer request by the company will not be entertained. Any employee who may be looking to transfer their sponsorship will also have to have all their necessary paperwork which includes the valid work permit and the Iqama.

The labor ministry will not be accepting any requests which lack either the proper paperwork or those who have been working without any papers for a period of 3 months or more. Previously the employees of these private companies who would fail to implement the Ministry of Labor’s wage protection law had the allowance to transfer their services and thus their sponsorship over to another firm without the prior consent of or informing the previous employer.

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