Saudi Arabia: Labour market testing now required for work authorisation process

Employers in the private sector must complete a labour market test to obtain block visas, effective immediately.

The new requirement is expected to complicate and add several weeks to the overall work authorisation process. Obtaining a block visa is the first stage of the work authorisation process, and is mandatory for all employers seeking to hire foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia.

Labor Market Test Process

Employers must post job opening advertisements for positions to be filled by foreign workers on the Human Resources Development Fund’s electronic system, called Taqat, which is linked to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development’s online portal. Employers will likely be required to conduct job interviews of minimally qualified candidates who respond to the posting to prove the employer’s efforts to find suitable local workers.

The Ministry of Labour will adjudicate block visa requests if the employer demonstrates that no suitable local candidates were found through the job posting. The duration of the posting depends on the job title and is determined by the Ministry of Labour.

All online job postings must include the following mandatory fields:

  • The job type, such as whether it is a permanent position, a short-term position, an internship etc.;
  • Job title;
  • Occupation level;
  • Number of positions available;
  • Required education level;
  • Minimum experience required; and
  • Desired start date and gross salary.
  • Additional position requirements, such as language requirements, licenses, certificates or trainings, are optional.

Employers must confirm in the posting that female candidates would have suitable facilities at their work place, according to Saudi labour law.

Employers seeking block visas for foreign nationals who would work on government-contracted or government-supported projects will also be subject to the new requirement.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

The new mandatory labour market testing process adds several steps to the overall work authorisation process. Employers may experience longer processing times for work authorisation applications and they may need to budget for increased processing costs. Employers may also need to develop new internal processes to interview and evaluate local candidates who respond to job postings.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK