Urgent Update for Visit Visa Holders
Since the resumption of international flights, many expatriates have taken the opportunity to return to their home countries.
In recent days, since the 30th September, we have been made aware of an issue being faced by visit visa holders seeking to exit the Kingdom. To be clear, this issue has been faced by holders of visit visas only, not those who are resident in the Kingdom with an Iqama.
We are told that a number of visit visa holders have been fined at the airport by immigration officers for ‘overstaying’ their visas. Specifically, the fine has been levied for overstaying the ‘duration of stay’ (usually 30 or 90 days).
The fine has been calculated at SAR 100 per day of overstay and we are aware of two cases of fines of SAR 12k and SAR 4.5k being required to be paid by the visa holder before being allowed to travel.
Travellers were told to pay the fine and then contest it on their return to KSA.
Our advice is to check with your sponsor before you travel to ensure that your duration of stay has been extended. In most cases, the duration of stay for a visit visa will NOT be extended automatically and your sponsor will need to manually request an extension through the muqeem portal.
Please note that the request must be submitted in the last 7 days of the duration of stay period (30 or 90 days depending on the visa type). During lockdown and the closure of Saudi airspace, sponsors have been able to request repeat extensions without issue but, now that flights have resumed, it may well be the case that the visa holder will have to physically leave the Kingdom and re-enter to reset their duration of stay (30 or 90 days).
If your sponsor has not extended your duration of stay and you try to exit the Kingdom you may face a fine.
If your visit visa has expired and your sponsor has not extended the validity period, you may also face a fine at the airport.
If your visit visa has expired and your sponsor HAS extended the duration of stay, please note that you will only be able to exit the Kingdom and not re-enter based on the extension. You will need to renew your visit visa.
There does seem to be some confusion regarding automatic extensions that were granted to Iqama holders rather than to visit visa holders. Of course, it may also depend on your sponsor as some Government visit visas have been extended so you must check with your sponsor prior to travel.
Saudi Embassies in most countries are now processing visa applications, please contact AEI should you need a Letter of Invitation.
If you have any questions, please do get in touch with Lizzie at [email protected]