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Home » Expat Life, Immigration, Middle East, headline

Saudi Arabia: Curiosity – Labor Law Continues to Ensure Rights to Foreign Employees

As the Nitaqat system unrolls, Saudi officials confirm that expats' rights remain protected

By Immigration Specialist
September 14, 2011

Saudi Ministry of Labour LogoThe Nitaqat system, introduced by the Ministry of Labor in Saudi Arabia, is designed to boost Saudization and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign labor.

Nitaqat divides private sector businesses into color-coded categories depending on how many Saudi nationals they hire with regard to a specific quota set up by the government. Based on local jobseekers and job categories, the quota determines what percentage of local employees a company must hire. In case this percentage is not kept, a company falls into “yellow” or “red” category. Categories “green” and “excellent” have high Saudization rates.

Companies classified as “yellow” or “red” have been given a grace period, lasting until November 26, to hire local workforce and turn into “green” or “excellent” companies. Should they not meet the requirements until the designated date, limitations will come into effect. Among the limitations, red companies will not be allowed to renew work visas, substitute visas and seasonal work visas for their employees.

Media has already reported on cases where foreigners with valid employment contracts and immigration permits were denied re-entry visas upon leaving the country as a result of working for companies with low percentage of Saudi employees.

Contrary to such reports, authorities confirmed that foreign employees currently employed in Saudi Arabia legally are protected by the labor law and cannot be expelled. While the Nitaqat legislation may be applied for future cases, it cannot be imposed on foreigners who have already been granted their permits in Saudi Arabia.

Our articles are for informational purposes only. Should you have any further questions regarding matters related to Saudi immigration procedures, please feel free to contact your global Move One immigration specialist, or send an e-mail to

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