Private businesses and individuals get migrant and domestic worker visas, respectively, with some quotas turned into ‘Azad’ (freedom) visas.
Workers pay a fee to their sponsors for the freedom to work on their own.
But it can be a bit risky for these hardworking folks trying to make a living.
Read on to discover what the Azad visa is and whether it is legal or illegal.
What is Azad Visa?
Azad visa is a hidden partnership between Saudi businesses and individuals aspiring to work in Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia, there is no official “Azad Visa” type; it’s not recognized by strict Saudi labor laws.
The term refers to an illegal arrangement where agents or recruiting companies bring individuals from other countries to work unlawfully for a fee.
According to Saudi law, you’re only permitted to work for the employer (Kafeel) who sponsored your visa and brought you into the Kingdom.
Despite being an illegal practice, it has opened avenues for thousands of migrants to work independently or as freelancers.
How Azad Visa Works?
Here is the process of how this Azad visa works:
- First, employers request the government to get work visa permits.
- Then, they sell it to an agent.
- The agent/ company starts recruiting individuals, mostly from Bangladesh, India, or Pakistan.
- Now, here’s where it gets interesting—there are these financial transactions happening between agents and visa applicants.
- The expat enters Saudi Arabia on Azad Visa.
- As a result of all this, the golden ticket, known as Iqama, is issued.
It’s basically your gateway to work in any company you fancy.
However, it’s crucial to ensure your Iqama profession matches your actual work.
- Once the expat gets a job, he transfers sponsorship through Qiwa and becomes a legitimate employee.
How much is the Azad Visa for Saudi Arabia?
Azad visas come at a cost, with prices varying based on the profession:
- Domestic worker visa: Around SAR 10,000.
- General labor visa: Approximately SAR 14,000. (Most recommended)
- Higher-skilled professions (e.g., accountant): Up to SAR 20,000.
Azad Visa Penalties
The General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has specified that employers permitting their expatriate workers to engage in work for others or operate as self-employed will be subject to penalties, which include:
- A fine of up to 50,000 SR.
- Imprisonment of up to 6 months.
- A ban on recruiting foreign workers for a period of five years.
- Self-employed expatriates will face deportation from the country once they complete their jail term and settle any fines imposed.
As Saudi Arabia undergoes labor reforms to dismantle the Kafala system and create more jobs for migrant workers, the secret “Azad Visa” world shows how businesses and people team up for opportunities in the Kingdom.
Although this unauthorized arrangement provides some freedom to workers, it carries significant risks and potential legal consequences.
Choosing a temporary work visa is recommended for swift entry and the flexibility to travel in and out as needed.
As we look into how the Azad Visa works – its steps, costs, and possible punishments – we see the tough situations many people encounter when trying to find jobs in Saudi Arabia.
It shows the problems and risks of taking this illegal path in the country’s job scene.