A lot of people who have never been to Saudi Arabia might know it for being an oil-rich state and the birthplace of Islam. While most tourists visit Saudi Arabia on religious pilgrimages, it is slowly opening up to leisure tourism.
That’s the reason they came up with the Saudi eVisa for tourism. And the Saudi Arabia visa system has been more streamlined since 2017.
It is also popular among expats who want to work there. For example, teaching English in Saudi Arabia comes with a lucrative salary usually. A lot of immigrants from India, Pakistan, Philippines, and other Asian as well as African countries also immigrate to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or KSA to work in many blue-collar jobs.
Do I Need Visa for Saudi Arabia?
The short answer is yes, you do. Like many other countries in Asia such as Cambodia or Thailand, KSA needs the citizens of most countries in the world to come with a visa. And now that we are talking about it, getting a Cambodia visa or visa for Thailand is much simpler than a visa for KSA.
There are four countries whose citizens don’t need a visa for Saudi Arabia. Yep, you heard that right. People from these countries can enter with their ID cards. It’s like their mini Schengen zone.
- United Arab Emirates
Saudi Arabia Visa Types
Depending on teh purpose of your stay in the KSA, different Saudi visa types are available. Some of them can be applied online and some of them can only be obtained in a KSA consulate.
1. Saudi Arabia eVisa
Citizens of 51 countries/territories can obtain eVisas online or on arrival to Saudi Arabia. The KSA eVisa comes with a validity of 90 days.
Here are the countries whose citizens can get eVisa for Saudi Arabia. You can apply for a Saudi eVisa at the official website of Saudi Ministry of Tourism.
An eVisa can be granted for tourism, family visit or business purposes.
|Canada||China (Hong Kong & Macau as well)||Croatia|
|United States||Holders of Schengen visas, US visas, or UK visas|
2. Saudi Arabia Tourist Visa
If you are not eligible to get an eVisa or visa on arrival for Saudi Arabia, you can get a visa from an embassy of KSA. The Saudi Arabia tourist visa will allow you to be in KSA for sightseeing and tourism purpose only.
3. Family Visit Visa for Saudi Arabia
A family visit visa for Saudi Arabia can be issued to foreigners who want to visit a family member in KSA.
To be eligible for this, you need to be a first line relative such as spouse, parents, children of the Saudi citizen.
You can apply Family Visit Visa online if you are from one of 51 countries eligible for eVisa or in a KSA embassy.
3. Saudi Arabia Business Visa
Foreign visitors wanting to visit KSA for business purposes such as meetings, trainings, business deals etc. can obtain a Saudi Arabi business visa.
4. Saudi Arabia Umrah Visa/Hajj Visa
Muslim pilgrims from all over the world can obtain a Umrah visa for Saudi Arabia free of charge at the Embassies or Consulates of Saudi Arabia.
If you are eligible for a Saudi Arabia eVisa, you can also use it to enter the Kingdom to perform Hajj/Umrah.
5. Saudi Arabia Work Visa
A Saudi Arabia work visa or employment visa can be issued to foreigners who will be gainfully employed in KSA. For this you need to have a job offer from an employer in Saudi Arabia.
Your employer has to procure a Saudi work permit for you, and then only you can apply for the Saudi employment visa in a Saudi embassy or consulate.
And once you receive the Saudi Work Visa and you enter the KSA, you also need to apply for a Residence Permit from the Ministry of Labor in KSA.
6. Student Visa for Saudi Arabia
If you want to study Arabic in the KSA or any other thing, you would need to get a Saudi student visa. In order to get it, you first need to be accepted in an accredited institute or university in the KSA first.
Then your university has to apply at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authorization for the Saudi Student Visa. Once your visa is authorized, you can apply for a Saudi study visa at a consulate of the KSA.
7. Saudi Transit Visa
Citizens of many countries who need to fly to a third country en route to Saudi Arabia and are not visa exempt for the KSA, can get a Saudi transit visa.
But you don’t need a transit visa if
- You have a confirmed onward flight ticket a third country within 12 hours, and you don’t leave the international transit area of the airport.
- You are traveling via Dammam (DMM), Jeddah (JED) or Riyadh (RUH) international airport.
- You have a valid visa or residence permit or are visa-free for your final destination.
How to Apply Saudi Arabia Visa Online?
The only KSA visa that you can apply online is the Saudi eVisa, and that too if you are eligible for it. You can apply for it on the official website of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Embassy Visa: How to Apply?
If you can’t get the Saudi visa online, you need to apply for KSA visa at a Saudi embassy in your country or any other country where you are a legal resident.
And it goes without saying that apart from the eVisa, any other visa like work visa or study visa can only be obtained from an embassy of Saudi Arabia.
And not to forget that different Embassies or Consulates always have their own way of doing things. And when it comes to Saudi Visa, most of them use authorized agencies for visa approvals.
So you can check for the visa requirements for Saudi Arabia in its embassy first, and then either make an appointment or contact the agency.
Here are all diplomatic missions of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Visa Fees
Saudi Arabia visa fees can change without any notice and varies in different countries, and depending on the agency you are using. On top of that, you also have to pay VAT at the applicable rates.
|Saudi eVisa fees||SAR 440 (appx. US$ 117)|
|Business Visa Single Entry||SAR 200 (appx. US$ 53)|
|Business Visa Multiple Entry||SAR 500 (appx. US$ 133)|
|Work, Residency, Transit & Student||SAR 50 (appx. US$ 13)|
|Government, Hajj, Umrah||Free|
Saudi Arabia Visa Agencies
A Saudi Visa application often involves the usage of an official agency approved by the KSA. So be it Umrah visa or work visa or visit visa, there is a big chance that you would need to deal with an agency rather than the embassy directly.
There are many fake agencies as well that cheat a lot of people. The official website of KSA embassy has a list of approved agencies for different countries, that you can contact for your visa application.
- Approved Saudi Visa Agencies in India
- KSA visa agencies in Canada
- Authorized agencies for Saudi Arabi visa for US citizens.
Saudi Visa Overstay
Trust me, you don’t want to overstay in the KSA. While there are many countries in South America or Asia where they might cut you some slack, in Saudi Arabia, they don’t play around with this.
You can be fined, deported or jailed or be punished with all three of them.
|2nd||25,000 SR||3 months Jail|
|3rd||50,000 SR||6 months Jail|
Can You Visit Saudi Arabia if You Have an Israeli Stamp?
As per Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, having an Israeli stamp on the passport does not disqualify someone from visiting Saudi Arabia. You can get an eVisa or Saudi embassy visa, and visit the KSA.
However, Israeli citizens are barred from visiting Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Visa for US Citizens
US citizens can get an eVisa for Saudi Arabia as well as a visa on arrival if they want to go to the KSA for tourism, sports, leisure or business purposes.
But other visas such as Saudi work visa or student visa can be obtained through the Saudi embassy in Washington DC only.
Apply Saudi Visa via Mail
Saudi Embassy in Washington DC:
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20037.
To apply for Saudi visa via mail, US citizens would need to
- include a pre-paid return label and envelope (from FedEx, UPS, or USPS only) with the return address label filled out completely.
- A proper pre-paid return envelope must include a “PRE-PAID” label.
- No cash, credit card, or personal check will be accepted.