Gulf Labour Markets, Migration, and Population (GLMM) Programme

An international independent, non-partisan, non-profit joint programme of a major Gulf think tank and a globally renowned academic migration centre.
The programme provides data, analyses, and recommendations contributing to the improvement of understanding and management of
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Saudi Arabia: Work visas issued by type/ sector of activity (private sector; governmental; domestic) (2004-Q3 2019)

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year private sector government sector domestic sector Total
2004 423,172 24,821 355,395 803,388
2005 352,924 32,034 339,985 724,943
2006 716,347 42,149 441,247 1,199,743
2007 1,141,601 51,935 445,106 1,638,642
2008 1,191,204 70,924 495,885 1,758,013
2009 932,494 61,143 496,092 1,489,729
2010 1,061,717 68,297 565,537 1,695,551
2011 1,181,911 110,223 647,796 1,939,930
2012 1,586,532 125,909 828,425 2,540,866
2013 950,252 57,007 714,593 1,721,852
2014 1,574,504 104,466 847,927 2,526,897
2015 1,973,391 78,882 995,930 3,048,203
2016 1,403,731 142,824 1,173,500 2,720,055
2017 Q1 146,561 12,288 155,643 314,492
2017 Q2 191,584 9,739 185,499 386,822
2017 Q3 203,021 113,661 192,498 509,180
2017 Q4 177,669 17,711 212,085 407,465
2017 718,835 153,399 745,725 1,617,959
2018 Q1 105,987 14,352 221,128 341,467
2018 Q2 199,529 14,170 180,854 394,553
2018 Q3 87,502 7,258 156,558 251,318
2018 Q4 221,081 12,021 168,179 401,281
2018 614,099 47,801 726,719 1,388,619
2019 Q1 143,685 17,686 229,457 390,828
2019 Q2 307,510 22,880 222,040 552,430
2019 Q3 348,883 16,769 240,788 606,440

Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Development
 
 
1. Definitions

The labour visa allows the worker to enter Saudi Arabia. It is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In order to employ workers from abroad, the sponsoring company must first file a “Block Visa” request with the Ministry of Labor, requesting pre-approval to sponsor foreign employees.
Once the Block Visa request is approved, the sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia should obtain a visa authorization number and an electronic power of attorney
authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia.
Foreign nationals may then apply for work visas through Saudi consular posts in their country of residence. Several documents are required before issuance of work visas, including medical certificate.
Therefore, 1. work visas reflect a given year/quarter’s new entries of workers to Saudi Arabia and 2. work visas issued are more than the workers effectively entering the country a given year/ quarter,
as some eventually do not terminate the procedure, or are rejected at a later stage (entry visa; residency procedures…).

2. Institution which provides data 

Ministry of Labour, now Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) (https://mlsd.gov.sa/en/node)

3. Data availability 

Until 2015, the data was published in Ministry of Labour’s Statistical Yearbooks
MoL’s Yearbooks until 2015 are no longer available on MLSD’s website.
MLSD’s Yearbook for 2016 has the figure of work visas issued that year:
https://mlsd.gov.sa/sites/default/files/uploads/v.26%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%86%D9%88%D9%8A%202016.pdf
Quarterly figures for 2017, 2018 and 2019 are published in the Labour Force Surveys:
https://www.stats.gov.sa/en/814

Last date of access: December 2019.

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