The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday May 14th approved a special residency scheme similar to green card systems applicable in other countries, putting an end to the decades-long Kafeel system, Reuters has reported citing the Saudi Press agency.
Saudi Arabia will abolish the sponsor (Kafeel) system after the cabinet has given formal approval to the Special Residency system, which was passed by the advisory Shura Council earlier this month.
The Special Residency, widely known as the Saudi "green card" will grant special privileges related to freedom of movement to and from Saudi Arabia without the need for the sponsor’s permission.
According to local media, the plan would allow wealthy and highly-skilled foreign expats to choose between defined and renewable residency or permanent stay in return for a high, one-off fee prescribed by the executive regulations. It would also allow them free movement, ability to own properties and vehicles, and to do business in the kingdom.
Currently over 10 million expats work and live in Saudi Arabia under a sponsorship system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit/re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.