I always believe the best way is to follow the rules and do not circumvent them. This also applies to obtaining a housemaid. One can certainly find housemaids who are already in the Kingdom, usually illegally, having entered on an umrah or hajj visa and then staying in the Kingdom instead of returning to their home country. These housemaids will usually be willing to live in and work at reduced rates because of their illegal status. But at the same time, there are obvious great risks involved to both the housemaid and the family who chooses to employ an illegal alien. There are also some housemaids who are in the Kingdom legally having found someone (majority of times a Saudi) who has agreed to sponsor them in turn to receiving a monthly payment each month from the housemaid in return for the sponsorship. These housemaids are legal, can “freelance” but will typically request higher rates since they generally are living in their own quarters (usually an apartment shared by at least a dozen others in the same status). Then there is the standard procedure to engage a legal housemaid.
There are many agencies in the Kingdom which specialize in identifying and facilitating acquisition of housemaids for their clients. One simply goes to the agency and discuss requirements such as preferred nationality, preferred age or age range, preferred religion, what language must the housemaid speak. Additionally the manager of the agency will want to know how many members are in the family, are there any pets and any other unique requirements or issues that should be taken into consideration when selecting a housemaid. You can consider the managing agent as in a sense playing a role of matchmaker. Once this application is completed and information obtained, the managing agent will then begin his search of candidates for the one who best fits the needs of the client. The Managing agent will also process the housemaid’s airline ticket, visa and iqama. While the managing agent may do the processing for the iqama, the client is the one identified as the sponsor of the housemaid. And of course the managing agent will charge a fee for his services. Depending on which nationality is chosen, the initial processing fees can range from 6500 SAR – 9000 SAR. The contractual understanding between the housemaid and the client will be agreed upon prior to her arrival. Therefore before she arrives she would have been informed (and agreed to) the terms of salary, hours worked and day(s) off.
Most housemaids in the Kingdom are from Indonesia and Philippines. Housemaids from Sri Lanka, India, Niger and Kenya are also on the increase. Housemaids from Indonesia usually have a good knowledge of Arabic before arrival due to Indonesia being a muslim country and many nationals learn Arabic through reading the Quran. Housemaids from Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Niger and Kenya will likely speak English. Some of them may also know Arabic. In the cases of India and Niger, it depends on whether they may also have Arabic.
When going through an agency and sponsoring a housemaid one must be patient. It can take from one to five months for the housemaid to arrive even though all associated charges have been paid in advance. Housemaids from Philippines usually take the least time to arrive (one to two months) but it can take longer for those coming from the other “usual” countries. The timeliness can depend on the supply of housemaids from the respective countries.
Some individuals may not want to wait for however long it may take for the housemaid to arrive but still want to ensure they have a legal housemaid under their sponsorship. Some agencies may have housemaids already in the Kingdom available for work and sponsorship. Be careful if contemplating this option. It may sound like an immediate solution to a need but in most cases, these housemaids are available because there were problems wherever they had initially been placed. I’m not going to say that every housemaid was bad or unsuitable who is in this circumstances and available but in many cases which I’m aware of, let’s say that the housemaid is not suitable to life and work in the Kingdom and likely better off to work in another country or return to her home country.
The monthly salary of housemaids varies depending on nationality and agency but not by much. When sponsoring a housemaid who will come to you directly from her home country, the salary will be lower than one who is already in the Kingdom. I reiterate that these housemaids are aware of and agreed to the proposed salary before leaving their home country. However in a lot of cases they also know that if they can arrive and then run-away from their sponsor, they can usually double their salary working on the black market since the supply is unable to meet the high demands. It is very common for the sponsor to retain the iqama of the housemaid.
A housemaid may arrive knowing very little about the Kingdom. She will probably not have an abaya and it is usual for the employer to provide her with one. Most homes in the Kingdom come equipped with a room known as a “maids room.” The size can vary and it will generally have a room, some shelving units, sink and then a separate small room with squat toilet and shower. The employer is expected to provide her with a bed. I strongly urge the employer to also provide her with a small chest of drawers, floor rug, small tv and radio. An employer should also help her acquire a mobile phone and teach her when to obtain and how to use pre-paid calling cards. If the room does not contain a closet, the employer should also provide a pedestal made for hanging clothes from.