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Saudi Arabia doubles exit and return visa fees for migrants

On January 23, 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers recently doubled the renewal fees for “exit and re-entry visas” for residents who are outside the Kingdom. The “exit and re-entry visas” are permits that residents in Saudi Arabia require to temporarily exit the Kingdom and return. Migrants who apply for these permits must, among other things, submit documents to show that they do not have any outstanding fees or fines.

According to the updated regulations, “exit and re-entry visa” fee is SR 200 (US$ 53.20) for a single trip valid for a two months period. After this period, a renewal fee of SR 100 (US$ 26.60) is charged monthly if the resident is still in the country (i.e. have not yet embarked on their trip), or SR 200 monthly if the resident is outside the Kingdom (i.e. has not yet returned from their trip).  

Additionally, the fee for a multi-entry “exit and re-entry visa” is SR 500 (US$ 133) which is valid for three months, after which SR200 is charged for each additional month if the resident is inside the Kingdom and SR 400 if the resident is outside. 

The average monthly salary for foreign workers who hold a diploma or lower is SAR 2045 (US$544). 

The Saudi Council of Ministers also approved an amendment to double the renewal fees for residency permits of “dependents of foreign workers” as well as domestic workers, if they are outside the Kingdom. 

Notably, when Saudi Arabia announced labour and immigration reforms in 2021, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development stated that migrants would now be able to leave Saudi Arabia without the consent of their employers. However, the requirement for an exit permit still remains, but foreigners are now required to pay and submit requests to the Saudi government instead. While the reform limited migrants’ dependency on employers for exit permits, in reality, migrants’ freedom of mobility remains restricted given that they have to pay significant fees, submit correct paperwork, and obtain permission from the Saudi state in order to leave the country. 

Saudi Arabia remains the only Gulf state that effectively charges migrants fees for exiting and returning to the Kingdom. Migrant-Rights.Org calls for the Saudi government to remove restrictions on migrants leaving the Kingdom as per Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.