IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Saudi labor authorities are imposing more stringent criteria for the employment of foreign engineers, including barring recruitment of those with fewer than five years of professional experience and requiring a minimum of 19 years of experience for consultant engineers. Foreign engineers are also now required to take a professional exam (Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) – NCEES) and attend a personal interview with the Saudi Council of Engineers to demonstrate proficiency in their profession and area of specialization.

What does the change mean? The stricter criteria, which will apply to public and private sector engineering positions, are intended to provide more job opportunities for Saudi engineers consistent with Saudi efforts to increase participation of its citizens in the workforce.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas.
  • Who is affected: Companies recruiting foreign engineers to work in Saudi Arabia.
  • Impact on processing times: The added requirements of a professional exam and in-person interview may lengthen overall processing timelines. To take the FE exam, applicants must register and then inform and pay the NCEES authority before sitting for the exam and awaiting a reply.
  • Business impact: Companies seeking to hire expatriate engineers should be aware of the stricter environment and plan for potential difficulties in successfully sponsoring foreign engineers on Saudi work visas.

Background: The new policy is based on an agreement reached Aug. 24 between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Saudi Council of Engineers, and is aimed at boosting employment of Saudi engineers.

BAL Analysis: Saudi employers and foreign nationals seeking to work as engineers in Saudi Arabia should anticipate tougher standards and heightened scrutiny. The labor authorities emphasized that foreign engineers must provide documented proof of their experience and would be liable for any misstatements about their experience.