The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington is pleased to announce to all Muslims in the United States of America a new policy for issuing Umrah visas. This policy represents a qualitative shift in the way the services are rendered to Umrah performers. Since many Muslim brothers and sisters may be unaware of the objectives behind the new policy, the Embassy would like to explain as follows:
The new Umrah policy has been adopted in order to help make the Umrah experience as physically convenient and spiritually enjoyable as possible. To accomplish this, the policy seeks to provide Umrah performers with better services and minimize their exposure to possible risks of deception and fraud by individuals or companies seeking to make quick profits at the expense of their comfort and wellbeing.
The Umrah season has been extended and the implementation of the new policy will commence on the first day of the month of Safar and continue through the fifteenth of Ramadan of each Hijrah year. The validity of both the Umrah visa and the travel pass has also been extended from two weeks to one month each.
While facilitating the travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Umrah Performers, the new Umrah policy also aims at guaranteeing the return of all Umrah Performers to their respective countries once they finish performing the religious rituals.
No change in the requirements for issuing Umrah visas is stipulated by the new policy. The only difference is that Muslims now have seven and a half months each year during which they can apply for Umrah visas in accordance with the new rules and travel to and stay in Saudi Arabia for an extended time. In addition, the policy aims at creating an atmosphere, that is more conducive to performing the Umrah rituals as it guarantees the rights of Umrah Performers, reduces the level of their inconvenience and discomfort and provides them with quality services.
Visa Procedure for Umrah Rerformers
To obtain an Umrah visa, an application must be submitted to the Embassy or one of the Saudi Consulates in Los Angeles, New York or Houston, by any company or agency licensed to provide travel and tourism services in the United States. Such company or agency must have already entered into contract with a Saudi company or establishment to provide Umrah services in Saudi Arabia.
An Umrah visa application thus submitted must satisfy the following conditions:
The applicant should be either a permanent resident of the United States (i.e. have an American citizenship or Green Card,) or have any other type of visa proving his/her legal residency in the United States. Individuals with visitor visas or who are on special missions in the United States are not entitled to Umrah visas from the Saudi Embassy or one of its Consulates in the United States.
An applicant must submit an Umrah visa application form accompanied by a recent standard color passport size photograph.
The applicant's passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months.
The applicant should satisfy the health requirements including submitting a certificate of vaccination against meingococcal meningitis [serogroups A, C, Y, and W 135] which must have been obtained within the last three years but not sooner than 10 days prior to his/her arrival in Saudi Arabia. For children age three months to 12 years, parents should consult their primary care doctors.
A roundtrip ticket to and from Saudi Arabia with confirmed reservation must also accompany the application.
A married couple applying for Umrah visas but who have different last names or whose children bear last names different from that of their father, should attach copies of their marriage certificates and/or copies of the birth certificates of their children.
Umrah visas are granted gratis to all Muslims. However, a cashier check issued by a bank recognized by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and covering the agreed-upon cost of accommodation, transportation and other services must be submitted for each Umrah Performer. Make the check payable to the contracted Saudi company. When traveling in a group, one check covering the cost of the services for all members of the group may be accepted. In addition, the American company may assume the responsibility of issuing a group check. In all cases, the American company shall be responsible for submitting the passports and showing proof of transferring the amount due to the contracted Saudi company. The name of the contracted Saudi company will be written on the visa page in the applicant's passport for the purpose of guaranteeing that Umrah Performers will receive the best possible services and care.
For those who recently embraced Islam and have not previously performed Umrah or Hajj, a Certificate of Conversion' to Islam is required.
Travel, Tourism Service Companies & Agencies in the United States
To obtain an Umrah visa, an application must be submitted to the Embassy or one of the Saudi Consulates in Los Angels, New York, or Houston, by any company or agency licensed to provide travel and tourism services in the United States. Such company or agency must have already entered into a contract with a Saudi company or establishment licensed to provide Umrah services in Saudi Arabia. such contrct shall authorize the American company to act as a representative of the SAudi company in entering into a contract with the Umrah Performer for the purpose of providing them with all Umrah services until their return to the United States. Attached hereto is a list of names and telephone numbers of such licensed Saudi companies and establishments. Please note that the contracted Saudi company is not permitted to enter into a contract with for rendering Umrah services if the American company is obligated to provide such Umrah services under a separate contract with another Saudi company.
The parties to the Umrah service contract may draw up the terms and conditions of their contact as they see fit provided that they comply with the following:
Adherence to the enforced laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Commitment by the American company to the principles and requirements of integrity and efficiency in providing the Umrah services.
All disputes between the contracting American and Saudi companies arising from disagreements over interpretation or performance of the contract and which cannot be settled amicably, shall be referred to the concerned authority in the Kingdom or to the court of arbitration as mandated by the Saudi law of arbitration and its executive bylaws.
The interpretation and performance of the contract shall be governed by the laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in drafting their own contract, the contracting parties may be guided by the standard contract as prepared by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj.
The contract shall be prepared in both Arabic and English languages and should a discrepancy arise between the two versions, the Arabic version shall prevail.
For the contract between the two parities to be enforceable, it has to be certified and registered by the Ministry of Hajj.
The service contract between the American and Saudi companies licensed to provide services to Umrah Performers shall be made of three originals all of which must be legalized by the concerned authorities in the United States and by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia or one of its consulates as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The legalized originals must then be submitted to the Ministry of Hajj for review, registration and certification. One certified original shall be deposited with the Ministry of Hajj.
In case the two parties to the service contract agree to the insertion of any amendment to the contract, the original copy, which was certified and registered by and deposited with the Ministry of Hajj must be amended accordingly.