Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenging and rewarding experience. The entire process, from leaving your home country, to arriving here and acclimatizing, then eventually to leaving the kingdom, is stressful and tedious. You will be faced with situations you have never found yourself in before. Simple details you never knew could be so important or stressful become the center of your universe and you need to use all the coping strategies you have to not let them get to you ie: getting a signature by a critical deadline so you can take a training program abroad (from the head of HR). Or trying to deal with a situation at home and feeling completely powerless because you are so far away (thank goodness for the support of helpful family members and partners back home).
On the other hand though, when you come to the Kingdom, you will find yourself in a country traveled to by few. Submerged in a unique and ancient culture which is still largely based on tribal customs and traditions which are misunderstood in the west. You will work with people from every corner of the world and expand your understanding of many other cultures. You will learn about a different way of life and how to adjust yourself to fit in with the population of people which you provide services for. You will grow. You will find out things about yourself that you may not have noticed if you were in the comfort of your own country surrounded by close friends and family. You will learn to become friends quickly and how to make a person, who was a complete stranger a month earlier, into someone so close and dear to your heart that you would think you had known them a lifetime. When you reflect back on your experience, you will discover that you are stronger than you ever thought you were.
The process in a nutshell:
Note: Keep in mind that the process is long, it takes most recruits 6 months from the interview to actually arriving in Saudi. Don’t give up hope and stay positive!
1) Apply to a recruitment company. Below are the two main Canadian companies who I have had the experience of speaking to or working directly with. They are both excellent options for Canadians. To find my job, I went through an American company which was more challenging than it needed to be because they were used to visa etc. requirements for Americans which are slightly different than those for Canadians. At the time I was looking, Helen Ziegler didn’t have any positions available and I had not heard of IHR. Pulse is a company based out of the UK which a fellow Canadian is currently using, she has been happy with their services thus far.
– International Hospital Recruitment (IHR)
– Helen Ziegler & Associates
– Pulse International (based out of the UK)
2) Be a star in your interview, receive a job offer, and accept.
3) Complete the many visa requirements ***get started as early as possible!!!
– Medical for both your visa and the hospital (you will have every test under the sun). Your doctor’s registration will have to be verified by the college of physicians and surgeons on one of the two medical forms once it has been completed.
– Copies of the following which have been notarized and then stamped by the department of foreign affairs in Ottawa. If you live close to Ottawa it is quickest to go directly there. The actual stamping takes about 10 minutes once you are seen after a 30-60 minute wait. The department of foreign affairs are only open set hours ever week so plan ahead. If you don’t live close, you will need to send the documents via post which takes 8 weeks.
a. 2 reference letters
b. Your registration card
c. Any degree you have related to your profession
d. Employment letters from any job you have held once your professional schooling was finished
4) A completed visa application form.
A small photo (smaller than passport sized) needs to be attached to the medical and visa application. Don’t worry! Your recruitment company will help you navigate the entire visa process as well as any other requirements. You will be responsible for all the fees other than the actual visa which the hospital will cover. The above list will give you an idea of the steps involved however it may have changed since I went through the process a year ago. It is therefore important to make sure you follow up with your recruitment company regarding all the necessary details.
5) Resign or take a leave from your current job. It is best not to do either until you have your visa. As in my case, the visa can take longer than expected. Once issued, the visa is valid for 3 months which will give you ample time to give the notice your workplace requires.
6) Speak with your accountant, if you have one or do some research regarding non-resident status to avoid paying back the taxes you saved working in a tax free country. The Canadian revenue agency wants to see that you have cut all ties with Canada. That means many things such as renting your house to someone who is not your family or friend and canceling any memberships. You can find lots of information on CRA’s website regarding non-resident status.
7) Once your departure date is established, the hospital will issue you an e-ticket and you will be on your way!