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Wed 6 Apr 2016 10:57 AM

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Saudi Arabia planning US-style ‘green card’ system

Deputy crown prince hoping to raise $10bn a year from permanent residency proposal

Saudi Arabia planning US-style ‘green card’ system
Saudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia is considering setting up a ‘green card’ system, similar to that used in the US, as part of plans to raise $100 billion of revenues annually by 2020.

The green card system and a plan to charge companies a fee for hiring more foreign workers above official quotas could raise $10 billion each a year, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg.

Other than VAT, Prince Mohammed said: “Yes, we have the sin tax, energy drinks and soda drinks tax. We are working on a specific programme similar to the green card.

“Some fees might be on luxury items and as we said earlier, restructuring subsidies. So it’s a large package of programs that aims to restructure some revenue-generating sectors.”

The prince said that $10 billion would come from VAT, $30 billion from subsidy reforms and $40 billion from other unspecified measures.

The green card system in the US allows immigrants to live and work in the country permanently. They are valid for 10 years, after which they can be renewed, and are seen as a path to gain citizenship.

Further details about the Saudi green card policy are unknown, although further details about Saudi Arabia’s revenue-generating proposals may be clarified in the National Transformation Progamme, which Prince Mohammed said would be launched in less than a month’s time.

Ahmed 3 years ago

I would like to see this in the UAE and move away from the current system of company sponsorship. However, don't get too excited sub-continent residents, because this involves a quota system and your numbers are very high in the UAE. A green card system involves a work permit system between the government and the worker and a worker is free to move positions freely and have a more stable resident status in a country. Therefore, if you lose your job, you don't have to leave, but can continue on your own free will to look for another job. It is a win-win situation for the government who can control resident levels by a quota system, for companies who can easily hire future employees and for the employees to have freedom of movement. I hope I see this in my lifetime.

Mariyam 3 years ago

I would love to see the UAE adopt this system, at least I dream about this happening in my lifetime. It's a win-win situation for government, employees and companies. They can even implement this without a move to citizenship.

Mostafa 3 years ago

I am truly happy to hear about such a good step. I know many people, including myself, plan to leave the middle east for the promise of being permanent residents or citizens in western countries like Canada or Australia as we lack stability and life security in our home countries. The Saudi promise of granting permanent residency and true economic corrections will definitely attract skilled workers and hence achieving better prospective growth for the whole country. Good luck in this move.

kk 3 years ago

Why would a Western citizen want a "green card" for the UAE? If they are unemployed but want to live there, they can just cross the border every 6 months. This would only be useful for those countries that don't get visa on arrival.

David 3 years ago

Why do I want to move to Saudi Arabia while my wife even does not have freedom of driving? Good idea bad place!!

SALEEM SADIQ 3 years ago

Excellent and brilliant offer of green card.
Saudi Arabia is the best county in the world for living and enjoying your as Islamic way

John 3 years ago

@kk You missed the entire topic of the article. Translation: This article discusses SA contemplating moving to a green card system over the present kafala system. This is about work permits which would be provided through the government in order to work in the country, you would no longer need sponsorship and could move freely in the market to work. It would save companies a lot of money and increase revenue in the government and give residents a more permanent status in the country. Everyone would need a green card to work in the UAE if adopted here.

Peter 3 years ago

A quota system where an employee is responsible for his visa would be great. Currently we are having to employ people based only on their CVs and interviews. We can not try someone out as that is against the law. After hiring many a times the employee is found wanting in skills or they lack discipline & attitude to execute their duties properly. I am an SME with just 5 staff. We are struggling to survive in this depressed economy but have had to cancel the visa of a staff member after just two months at work. He would turn up late, sleep during office hours as he had a hangover, forget to do the work he was allocated and so on. Such behaviour can not be predicted in interviews. It has cost me several thousand dirhams and lots of lost time during the earning season. Earlier the threat of a 6 month ban used to keep their behaviour in line but even that is gone now. The authorities now need to move the visa cost on to the employee so that genuine employers like us do not suffer.

James Daly 3 years ago

In my field (healthcare) Saudi Arabia is at least 20 years ahead of the UAE in all aspects.
Moreover, it seems that with the chips down they are taking really bold, realistic and ambitious moves to create jobs and retain the best talent.
If their plans succeed KSA will surely overtake the UAE in all aspects, except perhaps that annoying driving ban

Kaif 3 years ago

This is something which needs to be adopted by the UAE as well.