September 27, 2008

Masuk susaah, keluar susaah _ Hardship of getting in and out of Saudi :(

From all the countries, I've visited, Saudi Arabia is probably the country with the most hassle on visas. It's quite difficult to obtain a visa to enter the country without a definite sponsor. If you work, you also want to make sure that the visa and iqama (residence permit) is in accordance to your contract.

Also unlike other countries, which offer tourist visas or visit visa by invitation, as far as I know, up to now KSA only issues visit visa for immediate family of the resident who work. So, it is more difficult to invite my mom, than it is to invite my hubby's. At first, I thought, people can just come with some invitation visa, so that while we're here, our relatives and friends can come over to our place for holiday and perform umroh. Totally wrong.



That's from the entry side. From our part as the residents, if we want to leave KSA for vacation or other matters, we should have an exit-reentry visa, allowing us to return to the country. So the iqama is only an internal ID card?

Last month, when we were about to embark on the plane to Jakarta, in the immigration desk, my exit visa turned out to be expired for 3 days!!! A week before, actually we have already confirmed the expiry date to several places; the HR in my hubby's office, the Saudiair office and the immigration office both in the airport. They all said that the visa is still valid.

Due to this problem, our vacation was delayed until the next day. It should have been two days waiting, since the flight was full. But, because we were persistent in updating with the airline office almost every 2hours, we could go right away. Luckily, it is probable that this kind of mistakes in visa expiry date not only happened to us, that the airline is used to this kind of delay. If we were in other country, probably our ticket would have been cancelled, and we couldn't reschedule the flight but buy a new ticket.

I've read before in Arabnews, that Saudi will issue a new kind of tourist visa. But considering the veiled culture that they have, I doubt it will be in the near future.

So to our relatives and friends, sorry if we can't invite you to come just to perform umroh, moreover hajj (which also has quotas for residents). Cause sometimes it's not only coming here that's difficult, but also getting out poses a problem :D

1 comment:

  1. Mba... sampe sekarang aja, visa gw blon jadi..!!! katanya gara2 Ramadan??!!! apa hubungannya coba???

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