End of old Kafala System in Saudi Arabia, Expatriates Free to Switch Jobs and Visits Home Country

After the implementation of new conditions in Saudi Arabia’s kafala system include that expatriate workers will be able to have job mobility and the freedom to enter and exit the Kingdom without the need for an employer’s permission, as the country’s improved reforms on its “kafala” sponsorship system officially came into effect on Sunday, 14th March 2021.

The old kafala system previously tied expatriates and migrant workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees’ visa and legal status.

Kafala systems which was emerged in the 1950s when gulf countries started hiring migrant workers at a rapid pace to accelerate development following the discovery of oil in the region.

New Rules

Migrant and Expatriates are allowed to switch to other jobs upon the expiry of their work contract without the need for their former employer’s approval.

Migrant workers will be able to travel outside Saudi Arabia, upon submitting an application, with an online notification to the employer without the need to seek prior permission.

A ‘final exit’ stipulation will also allow a migrant worker to leave immediately after the end of their contract, with an online notification sent to an employer without requiring his or her consent.

Earlier in November 2020, the Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced to implement new conditions for expatriate workers in the Saudi Arabia starting March 2021, with the aim of improving the kafala sponsorship system and the changes to the system aim to make the Saudi labour market more attractive.