Updated on 29 July 2012
These are the procedures for a non-Saudi woman marrying a Saudi man. The following information has been derived from my personal experience (as of this date, almost 6 years ago) and that of others who are still going through the process and have successfully completed the procedures. Please be aware that there may be variations in the procedures because each person’s situation and circumstance is unique. I have tried to incorporate all of the relevant steps but if you think there is something I omitted please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!
1. Submission: Apply for the Saudi marriage permission at the Emarah in your city and at some point you will have to go to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Husband is given a file number which he must track continuously. That means the husband should inquire about his file IN PERSON every week or as often as possible. I wish that I could tell you to call but a lot of people have complained that they got little or no information in this way. Unless you know and trust an official working in the MOI, not much progress is made over the phone. If the husband “walks” the file through this will not give them a chance to avoid him over the phone and saying their infamous line “Bukra insha’Allah” (tomorrow insha’Allah) which is unfortunately an empty promise for those who take it lightly.
1. Documents to be submitted: It is better to personally inquire as to which documents are needed by the husband and the wife. To get an idea of what may be required, see this page.
2. Interview: Some husbands may have to be interviewed about their file and explain why they are marrying a non-Saudi and why they can’t marry a Saudi. They may be asked to bring two witnesses to the interview.
3. Approval: If the husband is 35 and over then approval will be quicker insha’Allah. If a Saudi man has been divorced from a Saudi woman or widowed and can provide proof of the divorce/death of his spouse, then this also facilitates approval insha’Allah. It has also been reported that if a Saudi man has an illness or physical disability (proven by medical records) which makes him an unlikely candidate as a husband for a Saudi woman then he can easily marry a foreign woman insha’Allah. If he falls under any of the exception qualifications, he may be required to submit an exception request with proof(s) in conjunction with the marriage permission application.
4. Marriage: Once your marriage permission is approved then the next step is to decide which country you want to get married in. You must inquire about the marriage laws of that country, whether it be Islamic or secular. Once you have fulfilled all of the qualifications to get married in the country of your choice then you can need to submit the documents to a Saudi Embassy and follow their instructions regarding finalizing the process.
5. Visa: If you are not living in Saudi Arabia this final step involves submitting more paperwork to the Saudi Embassy of your respective country IF you want to reside in Saudi Arabia or visit Saudi Arabia. If the husband is in Saudi Arabia then he must apply for the visas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with proof such as the marriage permission, marriage certificate and any other documents they require from him, as the kafeel (sponsor). He will be given a reference number and date of the visa which the wife should include with her paperwork that needs to be forwarded to the Saudi Embassy. This is because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the authority to issue/renew/extend visas only and it is the Saudi Embassy’s responsibility to stamp passports.
6. Iqamah: After you arrive in Saudi Arabia, your husband will have to go to the Passport Office and transfer your visa over to an iqamah before the visa expires. You will have to take another medical for the iqamah (besides the one done in your country in order to receive a visa).
7. Family Card: In order to place you on the family card, the husband must go to the Ministry of Exterior and get the marriage certificate stamped (condition is that it must already be stamped (authenticated) by the Saudi Embassy.
8. Rejection: Reasons vary (sometimes without justification).
9. Please note that there is a SR100,000 Fine For Violators Of New Marriage Law