OFWs Transferring Sponsor?Know Your Company's Category in Saudi
Audrey, Sep 29, 2014
The Saudi Ministry of Labor had recently released an advisory in their social media account saying that a newly recruited foreign worker can look for another sponsor without permission. This is if their company falls under the Red or Yellow zone category. This classification is under the Nitaqat law.
The Nitaqat Law is a new system imposed by the Saudi government in June 2011 for the localization of jobs in Saudi Arabia. Nitaqat is an arabic word which means “range”.
Under the Nitaqat law, companies are placed under four categories. These are the premium or excellent, green, yellow and red category. Each category is treated and rewarded in different ways. These categories are based on the percentage of Saudi nationals in the total number of employees they have.
PREMIUM/EXCELLENT – A company will be under this category if it has more than 40% Saudi nationals of their employees. They obeyed the Nitaqat law and will be given the following benefits:
- They can recruit foreign workers and the visa processing for its foreign workers will be easier.
- Employers in this category can transfer the sponsorship of workers in the Red or Yellow category, even without their sponsors or Kafeel's permission.
- Employers in the premium category can transfer the sponsorship of workers in the Red or Yellow category even if the worker has not yet completed the two-year requirement of Jawazat, which is also known as General Directorate of Passports.
- When the company's license expired, they will be given a one-year grace period to renew it.
- Companies under this category can change the profession of their employees. Professions which are strictly for Saudi Nationals can be changed for their expat employees.
- Companies in this range can renew its expats iqama three months even before the expiration.
GREEN – A company that has more than 12% Saudi employees will belong to this category, and will enjoy the following benefits:
- They can apply for new visas of their expat worker once every two months.
- Like those in the excellent category, employers in the green category can transfer the sponsorship of workers in the Red or Yellow category, even without their sponsors or Kafeel's permission.
- The company can also change the profession of their employess. But not the professions reserved for the Saudi nationals.
- Six months grace period will be given to the company when their license expired.
- They can also renew their expat workers iqama three months before the expiration.
YELLOW – If a company is qualified to belong to this category, it means they have 7% Saudi nationals of their employees. Of course, it has its advantages and disadvantages, which includes the following:
- When two foreign employees leave their sponsorship, that's the only time they can get one visa, which includes the transfer of sponsorship as well as the exit visa.
- The company is not allowed to transfer visas from other sponsors.
- They cannot stop an employee wanting to transfer to other company with the green or excellent status.
- Companies in this category cannot renew the Iqamas of their employees who have already completed four years. Starting October 2014, employers in this category will not be able to renew the Iqamas of employees who had been with the company for six years. And from May 2015, these employers cannot renew the Iqamas of those who have completed two years with their company.
- They are given 9 months to improve their status.
RED – Poor compliance of localization for jobs in Saudi Arabia will make a company fall under this category. They have employed more than 4% of Saudi nationals only, thus will not be entitled to any benefit. They are given six months to improve their status and be lifted from the red category. In fact, they will have to face these problems:
- Cannot get new visas for their foreign employees.
- Cannot transfer visas from other sponsors.
- Cannot stop an employee wanting to transfer to companies with green or excellent status.
- Cannot renew Iqamas of their employees.
- Cannot change the profession of their employees.
- Cannot open new branches.