In an effort to facilitate religious pilgrimages, Saudi Arabia has introduced streamlined procedures for foreign nationals seeking to perform Umrah or the lesser pilgrimage in Mecca. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has unveiled the steps to obtain a family visit visa for this purpose, allowing beneficiaries to visit Islam’s holiest site. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to obtain the family visa for Umrah:
Who is Eligible:
The family visit visa can be acquired through a relative who is a resident in Saudi Arabia. The applicant should be either a Saudi citizen or a resident expatriate.
- Apply for the visa through the Foreign Ministry’s Unified National Platform: Visit Mofa.gov.sato initiate the application process.
- Ensure that the application is presented via a relative who is currently residing in Saudi Arabia.
After receiving the family visit visa, the visa holder must take the following steps:
- Book an Umrah appointment using the Nusuk or Tawakklana Services apps.
- Confirm the appointment before proceeding to the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Recent Facilities Introduced:
Saudi Arabia has made significant efforts to accommodate overseas Muslims for Umrah and pilgrimage purposes:
- The Umrah visa validity has been extended from 30 days to 90 days, allowing a more extended stay for pilgrims.
- Entry and exit from the kingdom are now permitted through all land, air, and sea outlets.
- Expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can apply for a tourist visa, irrespective of their profession, to perform Umrah.
- Eight additional countries have been included in the visit e-visa system, expanding the list of eligible nationalities to 57.
- Holders of Schengen, US, and UK visas can also schedule Umrah appointments and visits to the Prophet’s Mosque via the Nusuk app before arriving in Saudi Arabia.
With these measures in place, Saudi Arabia aims to accommodate an estimated 10 million Muslims from around the world during the current Umrah season. These advancements reflect the kingdom’s commitment to enhancing the experience of pilgrims and promoting religious tourism.