On Sunday, Saudi Arabia officially launched an online portal through which officials will begin accepting "premium residency" applications - which include both long-term and short-term visa options.

The residency scheme was approved by the Saudi cabinet last month after it was given the green light by the kingdom's Shura Council. 

Now that applications are up and running, here's all you need to know: 

How much does it cost and who can apply?

There are two options open to those who want to apply: a permanent residency visa that costs 800,000 riyals ($213,000) and a one-year renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals ($26,667). 

To be eligible for applying, Saudi-based expats must be "at least 21 years old, prove financial solvency and have a clean criminal record and bill of health."

What are the perks of a Saudi Green Card?

A premium residency in Saudi Arabia grants expats and their families long-term visas and privileges that were previously deemed off limits for non-Saudi nationals. 

These include freedom to exit and enter the kingdom without a sponsor's approval, being allowed to use lanes designated to Saudis at the kingdom's exit and entry points, and being able to apply for visas for relatives. 

Another perk is ownership of real estate for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes (only allowed in areas outside Mecca, Medina, and border areas). 

Working at private establishments without the need for a sponsor is one of the most important benefits of the scheme. Expats are allowed to change jobs without the need to leave the country and return under the name of a new sponsor. 

What does it mean for Saudi expats?

The scheme will provide expats - who are owners of capital funds or businesses - more security and stability, especially when it comes to their investments in the kingdom.

The possibility of losing one's job - and thus, sponsor - often deters expats from investing in the respective country of residence, even if they've been living there for decades, with many preferring to invest in their native countries. With this initiative, the kingdom is now offering expats more stability in return for investments.

Speaking to StepFeed, Abdul Rahman, a Jordanian businessman based in the kingdom, told us more about the historic move. 

"I've been living and working in the kingdom for 20 years and I co-own a company with a Saudi friend. This is the first time I can say I am 100 percent sure that my investments in the country are safe. Once I apply to the residency, it'll bring so many benefits to both my work and personal life," he said. 

"I think this initiative is going to drive more international business investments into the kingdom because it grants investors the much needed feeling of belonging," he added. 

For Sami, a Saudi-based Lebanese entrepreneur, this move is "going to be life-changing" for him and will help him grow his business in the kingdom.

"It's a leap forward for Saudi Arabia and I think it's going to transform the way we do business in the country. It's also going to help advance its entrepreneurship scene and encourage young people to launch endeavors locally," he told us. 

This initiative has been in the works for years

In 2016, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the country plans to issue permanent residency "Green Cards" for expatriates as part of the kingdom's Vision 2030. 

The ambitious blueprint aims to diversify the country's economy and steer it away from its reliance on revenues from oil sales. 

Under it, Saudi Arabia has introduced several initiatives that are set to guide the country into an era of constant development and advancement.