The Complex Issue of Single-Status

The Complex Issue of Single-Status

We routinely tell people applying for staff-level positions in Saudi Arabia (and other gulf countries) that, if you are married, you cannot bring your spouse with you. And even if you were able to obtain special permission to bring your spouse, the hospital would not pay for visa costs, relocation airfare, housing costs, healthcare, etc., for a spouse or children. Therefore, we were recently surprised to receive the following query posted to our website:

I AM A CANADIAN NURSE WITH A CONTRACT IN JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA. I WILL BE GETTING MARRIED 1 MONTH BEFORE MY CONTRACT STARTS. THE EMPLOYER STATES THAT I CAN BRING MY HUSBAND BUT WE WILL HAVE TO FIND OUR OWN ACCOMMODATIONS USING MY ALLOTTED HOUSING ALLOWANCE. I WILL HAVE TO SUBSIDIZE LIVING COST SOMEWHAT SO IT MAY COST A LITTLE BIT BUT HAVING MY HUSBAND THERE IS WORTH IT. HE CAN LOOK FOR WORK WHILE HE IS THERE. I WAS WONDERING WHY YOU SAY THAT HUSBANDS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON A NURSES SINGLE CONTRACT??

An expansion of our answer:

Generally, Saudi Arabia does not allow expatriate women on a single-status contract (usually staff-level) to sponsor a visa for their husband or dependents. On the other hand, female physicians and female senior administrators will usually be offered a married-status contract.

If a position is in mid-level clinical management, such as Nurse Managers, Laboratory Supervisors, etc., men are offered married-status contracts (which pay for airfare, housing, healthcare, and children's education for the spouse and two children); however, women managers are offered single- status contracts.

Now, if a woman on a single-status contract is, under some condition, given permission to sponsor her husband and if her husband does not have his own employment contract, she will certainly face a number of complications, including financial strain (especially is she has to pay the expensive fees for child education).

So if you call our office inquiring about a position in the Middle East, two of the first questions we will ask you is if you are married, and what is your spouse's profession. If, for example, you are a Registered Nurse and your husband works as an engineer, we would recommend that he find a position first, before you considered relocation.

And, referring back to the query posted on our website, thinking things may have changed, we immediately contacted the hospital which the nurse said offered her a contract, to ask if a staff nurse would be able to sponsor her husband. The answer was no.

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