Complexities of obtaining a Saudi visa are known to frequent travelers. However, if you are planning to visit the Kingdom for the first time, it is better to do some prior research on the visa process. The process is not as easy as it is for other countries and you may experience delays and frustration because of lack of homework. It should be engraved in your mind if you are applying for a visa of Saudi Arabia that Saudi Arabia does not, and I repeat does not, allow casual tourist visa visits. You need to have a business or a family to get invitations letters issued from the Saudi government or no visa will be granted (except for Hajj or Umrah visa). The host may be the business which you will be working for or your family. If you intend to visit Saudi Arabia for a business trip, your host will be a registered company which has been allocated a fixed number, type and validity period of visas by the government.[irp]
The host company should send you a collection of official documents, the majority of which will be in Arabic. Here is the first problem encountered by anyone who cannot read or understand written Arabic applying for a Saudi Arabia visa! The most important document in this collection is the invitation letter which host company or host family will have to procure through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and send to you (add two weeks of time frame in your travelling plans since the government will approve the invitation letter two weeks after the host company requests for it). Without this critical piece of paper, you simply cannot visit Saudi Arabia. It will contain all the basic information about the type, duration of stay in Saudi Arabia and validity of the visa you will be issued.
The invitation letter should be sent to your consulate from Saudi via the electronic channel. During visa processing, the hard copies will be cross-checked with the electronic versions the consulate has. Moreover, the enjaz will also be listed in this invitation letter (without reconciliation of the invitation letter and enjaz you will not be granted the visa) In addition to the drawback of the invitation letter being in Arabic, it is also sent in different formats.[irp]
The importance of this letter, the complexity of Arabic language and confusing format makes it more advantageous for you to hire a visa expert who has experience of processing Saudi visas. It is better, in my opinion, to pay a few dollars extra rather than go through painful delays, mounting frustrations due to rejections and tedious paperwork.
Your task does not end with the correct filling of the invitation letter. By no means make the mistake of considering this invitation letter as your visa! You will still need to send your passport and application to the consulate. How smooth or tiring was your visa processing experience? Do you think it is best to leave the task of completing this long and confusing process to the expert agencies or are you a do-it-yourselfer?