Saudi Arabia to launch host visa for Iqama holders

The validity of the visa

Saudi Arabia is going to launch a new host visa for its citizens and iqama holders or expatriates to host people under their sponsorship for a period of up to 90 days.

How to apply for the host visa?

Currently, the visa is in the last stage of finalization. Once ready, a new option will be made available in the Absher accounts of expatriates who are iqama holders and citizens to apply for a host visa online. The Jawazat and the ministry will soon come out with a working mechanism for the visa.

For whom can we apply?

Citizens and expatriates who are iqama holders are entitled to bring 3 to 5 people on Host Visa to Saudi Arabia at a time;

  • Saudi Citizens can apply for host visa for whomever they want
  • Expatriates can only apply for closed family members. The term closed family members is yet not explained.
    • We are not sure if it will include brother, sisters and other in-laws. If this visa does not include brother, sisters and other in-laws, then there will be no difference between the host visa and the family visit visa at least for expatriates.

The fee for the visa

The fee to apply for the host visa in Saudi Arabia is expected to be SR 500 per person. The visa can be applied for the same person 3 times a year after filing a separate application and paying the fee.

Where to stay?

The citizen or expatriate iqama holder will have the full autonomy to keep the visa holders in his house, hotels, furnished apartments or wherever they want. The visa holders would be able to travel all around Saudi Arabia as there will be no restrictions on them to stay in any particular city.

Can we perform Umrah on Host Visa?

As we have explained earlier, the visa holder can travel to any city of Saudi Arabia which includes Makkah. Therefore, a host visa holder can go to Makkah to perform Umrah anytime except the Hajj season in which even residents of Saudi Arabia are barred from entering the holy place.

Who is responsible for them?

It is the responsibility of the expatriate iqama holder to take care of visitors who came to Saudi Arabia on a host visa until the time of departure. In case, any of them overstays in Saudi Arabia due to any reason, the sponsor would be responsible to pay the fine.

What are the other options to apply for a visa?

Currently, there are several options for an expatriate to bring someone to Saudi Arabia on a temporary visa;

  1. Umrah visa allows Muslims to come to Saudi Arabia for a period of 30 days. However, you will have to take hotel accommodation through an Umrah agent for the whole period of stay in Saudi Arabia.
  2. An iqama holder expatriate can apply for a family visit visa for his close relatives which do not include brother and sister.
  3. Anyone can apply for a tourist visa of Saudi Arabia online or by visiting their embassy.

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Steve has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2013 and writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures since then.