SAUDI ARABIA – Foreign Engineers Now Required to Have Five Years of Experience
The Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) and the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) have announced an agreement to require foreign engineers to demonstrate at least five years of professional engineering experience to be eligible for work permits.
The new agreement strengthens the previous requirement, implemented a few months ago, that foreign engineers provide documentary evidence of a minimum of three years of experience, pass professional engineering examinations administered by the SCE, and submit to personal interviews as part of the work permit application process.
“Saudization” - efforts at increasing Saudi nationals’ participation in private employment and decreasing the numbers of foreign workers - has intensified since the local unemployment rate rose above 12 percent earlier this year. It is estimated that of the more than 200,000 registered engineers currently working in Saudi Arabia, 85 percent are foreign nationals.
The Saudi government has introduced higher local minimum worker requirements for companies in its Nitiqat system and imposed a new “expat levy” on foreign nationals living in the Kingdom.
- Employers of engineers in Saudi Arabia should consult an immigration specialist to check their compliance with the new professional experience requirement.