Employers in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to conduct labor market testing before a block visa is adjudicated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, a mandatory step before the work authorization process can begin.
A closer look
Instead of conducting a labor market test, employers must now submit a block visa request directly through the Ministry of Labor and Social Development online portal. The rest of the work authorization process will not change. Essentially, the process has now reverted back to the way it was before Taqat, the labor market testing system, was implemented.
The elimination of the labor market testing requirement will significantly reduce the time it takes for employers to obtain block visa approvals, which are required before the work authorization process for foreign nationals can begin; foreign nationals should be able to start work sooner.
- Taqat system. Since 2016, employers seeking to hire foreign workers in Saudi Arabia have had to advertise job openings to Saudi nationals on the Human Resources Development Fund’s electronic portal, Taqat, and show that there was no suitable Saudi candidate for the position, before submitting a block visa request.
- Block visa process. The block visa process involves the employer submitting a request to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development for every position which it intends to fill with a foreign national. The Ministry analyzes the request to determine whether the employer meets the national quota for foreign workers based on each applicant's nationality, gender and job title.
- Other countries’ relaxed labor market tests. Other countries have also recently eased foreign worker hiring requirements by eliminating their labor market tests, including Germany for certain skilled workers, Romania, and the Flemish government in Belgium.