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Updated January 2023

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a magnet for professionals around the world looking for exciting career opportunities, with over 13 million expats living in the country.

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After having spent years living and working in the Kingdom, the natural next step might be to seek a Saudi citizenship.

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According to KSA’s latest amendment to Article 8 of the Saudi Arabian Nationality System, children of Saudi women who are married to expats become eligible for Saudi citizenship once they reach 18 years of age. They must, however, meet the following conditions:

  • permanent residence status in the Kingdom when he comes of legal age
  • fluency in the Arabic language
  • good conduct and sound character
  • no criminal convictions or imprisonment for a period exceeding six months for any indecent act

Saudi citizenship requirements

Saudi citizenship is granted on different grounds for different individuals.

In any case, at the time of submitting the application, the applicant:

  • must have reached the age of majority.
  • must have acquired the status of ordinary permanent resident in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the provisions of its special system for a period of not less than 5 consecutive years (10 consecutive years in the case of ex-pats and professionals, but more on that below).
  • should be able to prove his earnings through legitimate means.
  • should be of sound mind and good conduct.
  • must not have been sentenced to imprisonment for a moral crime for a period exceeding six months.

By birth

Saudi citizenship is granted to children born to Saudi fathers, regardless of whether they are born inside or outside the Kingdom.

Children born to Saudi mothers and fathers of unknown nationality or stateless fathers are also granted Saudi citizenship by birth.

According to the latest amendment, children of Saudi mothers are also eligible for Saudi citizenship at the age of 18, provided that:

  • they have permanent residence status in the Kingdom when he comes of legal age
  • are fluent in the Arabic language
  • have good conduct and sound character
  • have no criminal convictions or imprisonment for a period exceeding six months for any indecent act.

By marriage

Foreign wives

Foreign women who are married to Saudi women if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • evidence of a legal marital relationship.
  • announcing that she has abandoned her original nationality before a public notary.
  • the marriage must be in accordance with the instructions regulating the marriage of a Saudi to a foreigner.
  • submit a statement that the applicant does not have any previous criminal convictions or moral offences.
  • no notes or restrictions are registered with the relevant authorities.
  • the applicant must be residing in the Kingdom.
  • the marriage must last for at least five years and may suffice according to the following:
    • if four years have passed since the marriage and she has not given birth, one or more of the following cases must be met:
      • if one of her brothers or sisters holds Saudi citizenship.
      • if she was born in the Kingdom to foreign parents.
      • if the husband is one of her relatives.
      • if the husband is a professional, such as a doctor or engineer.
      • if the age difference between her and her husband does not exceed five years.
  • the period that has passed since marriage is sufficient if one of the following cases is met:
    • if the applicant’s father was a Saudi by naturalization and she did not obtain citizenship from him.
    • if the applicant gives birth to more than one child.
    • if the applicant gave birth to one son and the mother is a Saudi woman.
    • if the applicant gives birth to one son and has more than one brother or sister who holds Saudi citizenship.
    • if the applicant is born in the Kingdom to a Saudi mother and meets the conditions of Article 8 of the system.

The previous marriage period of a Saudi husband is calculated for completing the arranged period if the applicant has children from a previous husband. The wife of a foreigner, who has recently acquired Saudi Arabia nationality, has the right to become a Saudi unless she decides, within a year of her husband’s attainment of Saudi Arabian nationality, that she wishes to keep her original nationality.

Foreign widows

Saudi citizenship is granted to foreign widows of Saudi nationals if the following conditions are satisfied.

  • evidence that she is legally widowed by her Saudi husband.
  • the applicant must announce that she has abandoned her original nationality before a judge or a public notary.
  • the applicant must not remarry after her husband’s death.
  • the applicant must reside in the Kingdom.
  • the applicant must submit a statement that she has not been previously convicted of a criminal or moral offence.
  • no notes or restrictions registered with the competent authorities.
  • the applicant must have one or more children who have reached the age of maturity or are close to it, from her deceased Saudi husband or from a previous husband.

For expats and professionals

Expats and professionals living and working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia need to satisfy the following conditions to become eligible for Saudi citizenship.

  • the applicant must have entered the Kingdom in a legal manner and hold a valid passport that enables him to return to his country without restrictions or conditions.
  • the applicant must have resided, for a period of no less than 10 consecutive years under a regular residency permit in the Kingdom, with the provisions of its own system.
  • the applicant must be working in one of the professions that the country needs.

Moreover, they need to score at least 23 points, wherein a total of 33 points is distributed as follows:

  • residency of the applicant for at least ten consecutive years with a total score of ten points.
  • the profession of the applicant is proven through scientific qualifications and is based on the country’s needs. The total points should not exceed 13 points, and only one qualification is accepted:
    • Doctorate degree in medicine or engineering allotting thirteen points.
    • Doctorate degree in other sciences allotting ten points.
    • Master’s degree allotting eight points.
    • Bachelor’s degree allotting five points.
  • family ties, ensuring that the applicant has Saudi relatives. The total points should not exceed ten points, distributed as follows:
    • if the father is Saudi, he is allotted three points.
    • if the mother and her father are Saudi, three points are allotted; however, if only the mother is Saudi and her father is not, two points are allotted.
    • if the wife and her father are Saudi, three points are allotted; however, if the wife is Saudi and her father is not, one point is allotted.
    • if the applicant has more than two Saudi children and brothers, two points are allotted; however, if there are no more than two, one point is allotted.

Saudi citizenship benefits

While living in Saudi Arabia as an expat is an attractive opportunity itself, Saudi citizenship comes with even greater benefits.

Religious privileges: Saudi citizens can stay in the land of Makkah and Madina for a long period of time and can visit these holy cities to perform religious duties at any time. Moreover, they are even entitled to buy land and houses in the two cities.

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Job and business opportunities: As part of King Salman’s Vision 2030, Saudi citizens find it much easier to get jobs in the Kingdom than non-citizens. Some jobs, in fact, have been specifically reserved for Saudi citizens. Similarly, setting up a business in the Kingdom becomes much simpler with citizenship, as citizens are not required to follow the tedious Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority’s (SAGIA) procedure.

Convenience in travel: Saudi passport-holders can access visa-free entry in 43 countries and opt for e-Visa in 48 more. Saudi nationality thus makes travelling internationally a whole lot easier and cheaper.

Retirement provision: KSA is one of the few countries to give pensions to all citizens, regardless of whether they worked in the government sector. Saudi citizens do not have to worry about managing their finances as the Saudi government takes care of their retirement needs.

Free education and healthcare: Saudi citizens have a right to free access to education and healthcare in Saudi government schools and hospitals, whereas non-citizens have to shell out thousands of Riyals for these basic facilities.

 

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