Saudi Arabia changes Umrah visa rule; to remain valid for 3 months from issuance date

With pilgrimage season right around the corner, we are also looking at Umrah pilgrimage. If you are planning to visit Mecca for pilgrimage, travellers must apply for the Umrah visa. As per the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Umrah visa will last for three months (90 days) from the month of issuance. Now, how is the Umrah visa different from the normal tourist visa? The normal Saudi Arabia tourist visa is a multiple-entry visa, valid for 90 days. The Umrah visa is a single-entry visa valid for a maximum of 90 days. If reports are to go by, the recent change in the visa rule is to streamline preparations for the upcoming Hajj season (June 14-19). As per the reports, under the older visa rule, the three-month (90 days) validity period for the Umrah visa began upon entry into Saudi Arabia. Now, under the new Umrah visa rule, the three-month validity of the visa begins from the day of issuance. For someone with an Umrah visa, it will be possible to enter the country and perform the Umrah pilgrimage.
It is also important to keep in mind that an Umrah visa does not mean that the visa holder can use the visa for employment or activities not related to pilgrimage. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised visitors to respect the new visa rules, not to misuse the visa, and most importantly, leave Saudi Arabia before the visa expires. For those wondering if the two are the same, they are not. Though both Hajj and Umrah are pilgrimages, Hajj has a particular season every year. This year, the Hajj season starts from June 14 and ends on June 19. Hajj is considered to be a mandatory pilgrimage that a Muslim must undertake at least once in their lifetime. An Umrah pilgrimage can be done anytime during the Islamic calendar. Interestingly, the Saudi Arabia tourist eVisa allows travellers to take part in tourism-related activities such as events, family visits, leisure and even Umrah, but excluding Hajj.

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The Umrah visa does not allow visitors to perform Hajj rituals. You need a Saudi Hajj visa for that. The issuance of Haj 2024 visas closes on April 29.

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