How to transfer Iqama sponsorship in 2020?


In order to transfer Iqama sponsorship (Naqal Kafala), expatriates have to go through a hectic procedure, long process, comply with strict rules and produce some documents required for it in 2020. We have explained the entire process to transfer Iqama sponsorship in this article.

  1. Search for a Job in Saudi Arabia
    • Search for a Job in Saudi Arabia
    • Final Exit or Transfer of Sponsorship
    • Conditions to Transfer Iqama Sponsorship
    • Resign from the Job
    • Online System for Transfer of Sponsorship
    • Manual System for Transfer of Sponsorship
    • Who is responsible for Iqama Transfer Fee?
    • How to check the Status of Change of Sponsorship?
    • Transfer of Sponsorship without the consent of the sponsor
    • Latest Update
    • Transfer of Sponsorship of Domestic Workers

In order to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala) in Saudi Arabia, first of all, you should know “how to search for a job in Saudi Arabia”. During the process of appearing in the interviews and getting a job offer, ask your intended employer if he can arrange a visa for you as per your case.

The work visa application process in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very difficult, lengthy and complicated. This is the reason, employers do not offer a new visa for the employees; they try to search for someone who has transferable Iqama as sponsorship transfer rules are comparatively easier to follow.

Asking for a package or accepting a job offer can be dodging for you if you don’t know about the average salary of your profession in Saudi Arabia, I have published an article regarding this from which you can take guidance about the package to ask for. “Average Salary by Profession in Saudi Arabia”

  1. Final Exit or Transfer of Sponsorship

Although there are no iqama transfer rules which secure the rights of the expatriates in this regard, if you have your own visa, you are more likely to get a transfer of sponsorship. We have explained the updated iqama transfer procedure applicable in 2020 in detail below.

However, if the visa was arranged by your Kafeel (On his expenses) it is less likely that they would release you. In this case, you will have to go on a Final Exit and take another visa to come again in Saudi Arabia. Recommended: Procedure to get New Visa after Final Exit Visa.

Your sponsor has all the authority to send you on Final Exit even if you were initially transferred to him; however, there is only one situation in which you can enforce your right to get a transfer of sponsorship. We have explained it in this link “Legal Right to Transfer the Sponsorship from Employer”

  1. Conditions to Transfer Iqama Sponsorship

The Ministry of Labor has imposed some conditions to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala). If anyone does not meet these conditions, his sponsorship would not be transferred. These iqama transfer rules have made the procedure even more complicated.

  • Employees with Expired Iqama

An expatriate would not be able to complete the process of transfer Iqama sponsorship if the new sponsor to whom he wants to transfer has some employees with an expired Iqama.

  • Delay in the issuance of Iqama

The request for the transfer of sponsorship would not be entertained if the new sponsor has not issued an iqama of a newly hired employee within the first 3 months of his arrival to Saudi Arabia.

  • Delay in the payment of salaries

The transfer of iqama sponsorship is not possible for a sponsor who has been paying salaries to his employees late. The payment of salaries is monitored through the Wage Protection System.

  • Citizens of some countries

There are some countries in 2020 whose residents are not allowed to undergo the procedure to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala) in Saudi Arabia e.g. citizens of Thailand.

  • Nitaqat Category

It is very important to check the Nitaqat category of your prospective employer before starting the process to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala). If you want to know what is the Nitaqat system, we would suggest you read this article. Be noted that you can enjoy many benefits if your Kafeel is of the platinum category.

The easiest way to check the status of the intended employer is to take the Iqama number of any employee who is under the sponsorship of the intended employer. After that, you can check the Nitaqat Category of the Kafeel of that employee. We have explained it in the article “How to check Nitaqat Category of Kafeel”

If your current Kafeel is in Red Category of Nitaqat or you are meeting some other conditions, you can get your sponsorship transferred to him even without the permission of your current Kafeel, I have explained the procedure in this article. “Process of Transferring Sponsorship if Kafeel is Red“

  1. Resign from the Job

Once you have a job offer letter in your hand, this is the time to start the iqama transfer procedure by bringing your current employer into confidence. Now it depends upon the relationship you have with the decision-making people in your company if they will allow you to switch for the job.

It is not an easy task to take a transfer from your employer so treat this matter very intelligently. Believe me; whatever is written in iqama transfer rules about your rights is nullified when it is a time of taking a transfer from your employer.

If you say that it is your right to get the transfer, maybe you will have to face the consequences of Final Exit. So, your attitude should always be requesting. Try to build some pressure from someone who has influential power.

  • Notice Period

Here the matter of notice period comes into question. The notice period to leave a job is the notice period mentioned in your contract. In the absence of the contract, Saudi Labor Law prevails which speaks about the notice period of one month as the reasonable notice period.

However, your employer can ask about the notice period of a couple of months. You can request him but cannot argue in this regard. If this is the case, you should ask for some extension in joining the new employer.

Employers know about the iqama transfer procedure so they give enough time and opportunity to employees to get a transfer. Read more about the rules related to Notice period in this link “Notice Period under Saudi Labor Law”

  • End of Service Benefits

If your employer is comfortable in transferring your iqama sponsorship, you are entitled to benefits as per your contract. As per labor law, you are entitled to get “End of Service Benefits”.

We have explained in our article how to compute End of Service Benefits which will allow you to compute your entitlement.

  1. Online System for Transfer of Sponsorship

If your employer has agreed to transfer your sponsorship, the next step in the iqama transfer procedure is to go to your prospective employer to create a demand request in the MOL system. 

As per the online system for the transfer of sponsorship, the new employer will send an online request to transfer sponsorship of the employee to the sponsor using the MOL system.

If you have paid the fee for the transfer of sponsorship and a new employer has accepted the request, your sponsorship is transferred. You do not have to do anything. Just visit Jawazat to get your Iqama. Recommended: How to check Iqama Transfer Status?

The best thing about the online procedure to transfer Iqama sponsorship applicable in 2020 is that no documents are required to process the application. Moreover, the Iqama transfer process which used to take several days takes only a few minutes. 

  • Cancellation of an Online Request to Transfer Sponsorship

There is a possibility that your prospective employer has created a request to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala); however, now you have changed your mind and want to cancel the request. As per iqama transfer rules, there are two possible ways of doing so;

  • You can leave the request as it is and request your current sponsor not to accept it. It will automatically be canceled after 90 days of the request creation.
  • You can ask your prospective employer to withdraw the request to transfer the sponsorship from the system which would result in immediate cancelation of the request.

It is important to mention here that you would not be able to ask another employer to create a request for the transfer of sponsorship in the system if your current request is valid.

  1. Manual System for Transfer of Sponsorship

The manual iqama transfer procedure is also valid in 2020, but it is applicable only in exceptional cases when the online system does not work. It is important to mention here that other iqama transfer rules would remain the same even if you go with the manual system.

  • Documents required for iqama transfer
    • Demand Letter for the Transfer of Sponsorship

In the manual process to transfer Iqama sponsorship (naqal kafala), some documents are required from your new employer. You need a demand letter from your prospective employer requesting your current sponsor to release your sponsorship in his favor.

  • Letters from the Current Sponsor

Among the documents required for iqama transfer, you need two letters from your current sponsor addressed to Labor Office as well as Jawazat allowing transferring sponsorship to the new employer. 

Government Relations Officer of the new company will process the transfer of iqama sponsorship and will take the Iqama of the old employer from you.

He will give you a letter signed and attested by the chamber of commerce that your Iqama is under the process of transferring of sponsorship.

  1. Who is responsible for Iqama Transfer Fee?

Although employers are required to pay the Iqama transfer fee as per Saudi Labor Law and iqama transfer rules, it is a general practice in Saudi Arabia that almost 99.99% of companies don’t bear full charges of Iqama transfer.  

They only bear the charges equivalent to the amount payable as the first transfer of Iqama i.e. SR 2,000. Normally, there are charges of SR 2,000/- for the first transfer, SR 4,000/- for the second transfer and SR 6,000/- for any other transfer.

Now the question is, who will bear the expenses of transfer of sponsorship? Generally, the employer bears only SR 2,000 for the transfer of sponsorship. Any expense over and above this will be borne by the employee.

Let’s say if it is your third transfer, you will bear SR 4,000 and the employer will bear SR 2,000/-. However, as per Saudi Labor Law, expenses for the transfer of sponsorship are the responsibility of the new employer. Check this link for details “Iqama Transfer Fee under Saudi Labor Law”

  1. How to check the Status of Change of Sponsorship?

The guidance to make payment of the Iqama transfer fee is given in this link. You can check the status of change in sponsorship anytime online on the Ministry of Labor website.

We have explained it in the article “How to check the status of Change of Sponsorship in Saudi Arabia” When all of this is done, you are a legal employee of the new employer. Congrats on the new job and best wishes for your career.

  1. Transfer of Sponsorship without the consent of the sponsor

One may be thinking at this moment that if you have good relations with the employer and you leave him in a good manner, he will allow you switch jobs, but it is not the case every time in Saudi Arabia.

As per iqama transfer rules, you cannot transfer your sponsorship without the consent of your sponsor except in the conditions given in this link “Transfer of Sponsorship without Permission of Kafeel”. We have explained the procedure of transferring sponsorship in detail below.

  • Transfer of Sponsorship under Huroob

Although as per iqama transfer rules it is banned to transfer the sponsorship of an employee whose status has been set as Huroob; however, there is only one way to transfer the sponsorship under Huroob.

  • Latest Update

After the decision to waive off the Maktab Amal fee in the industrial sector in 2020, the government of Saudi Arabia has stopped the iqama transfer process, naqal kafala or the transfer of sponsorship to some industries. As a result, expatriates cannot transfer sponsorship from the non-industrial sector to the industrial sector.

  • Transfer of Sponsorship of Domestic Workers

The government of Saudi Arabia has allowed the transfer of sponsorship of a domestic worker to establishment or companies in 2020 after 7 years if the following two conditions are met;

  1. His Iqama was renewed for not more than one year last time.
  2. He will have to change his profession.

The transfer of sponsorship from establishment or companies to Individuals is still banned.