Table of Contents

Visa related Issues

  1. Employment and Residency Visa
  2. Visa for a Family Member
  3. Transfer of Visa
  4. Employment Ban

Employment and Residency Visa

Once the  employer obtains the Ministry's approval to employ an expatriate woman, he must complete the required immigration procedures, by submitting an application for an employment visa on behalf of the employee, thus assuming the role of  her sponsor. Sponsorship is a condition precedent to the entry of all foreigners into the UAE.

Employment visas may be obtained from either the concerned immigration authorities or the UAE Embassy/Consulate abroad. Employment visas entitle the holder to enter the UAE once for a total period of 30 days and are valid for a period of two months.

Basically, those entering the UAE for employment should come into the country on an employment visa, however it is possible to enter the country on a visit visa instead. People who are visiting the UAE on a Visit Visa and who also have an approval from the Ministry of Labour for an employment entry permit, can make a visa amendment, provided that they are sponsored for employment by the same person as for their visit visa. If, however, the employee’s sponsor is not the same as the sponsor for the visit visa, then the employee will have to leave the UAE and return on an employment entry permit issued by her employer.

The employment of expatriates in the UAE requires accomplishing the following procedures:

(1) The employer obtains an employment visa for the employee's entry into the UAE, assuming the role of her sponsor.
(2) The employee undergoes a medical test.
( 3) A labour card for the employee is obtained from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
(4) A residence permit for the employee is obtained. Residence permits are usually granted for periods of three years, however the immigration authorities may issue them for lesser periods subject to a one year minimum.

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Visa for a Family Member

In principle, an expatriate woman working in the UAE, may only sponsor her family members if she is employed in the profession of teaching, medicine, engineering or other similar professions which require a university degree or a specialized course, provided that her period of service is at least one year, and she meets the minimum salary requirements, namely she must receive a minimum monthly salary of Dhs. 3,000 plus accommodation provided by her employer or at least Dhs. 4,000 without accommodation.

However, if the woman's children are in her custody and their father is not in the country, she will be exempted from the above requirements and she will be allowed to sponsor them.

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Transfer of Visa

The transfer of visas is governed by ministerial circular No 7 for 2001 issued by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs on October 22, 2001, regarding the implementation of cabinet decision No 30 for 2001, concerning visa transfer, categories allowed to transfer their visas, and needed conditions.

The circular stipulates that no applications for visa transfer of workers will be accepted, except for UAE nationals and a limited list of categories which includes engineers, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, professors at universities and higher colleges, experts, and legal, economic, financial and administrative consultants, holders of higher university degrees, analysts and programmers of electronic information systems who must be holders of university degrees in the fields, technicians at oil and gas industry and related industries, sports coaches, air and marine navigators.

The sponsorship will be transferred provided that the employee with the new sponsor performs the same duties, must be holder of a valid visa, must have worked at least two years with the former sponsor, and must get the approval of the former sponsor for visa transfer, with the condition that no UAE or GCC nationals apply for vacant job.

The circular excluded the above-mentioned conditions for visa transfer in cases of transfer of the employee for another company owned by the same sponsor, the transfer of the employee for another branch in the same company or in case of the change of the company's or institute's ownership.

The explanatory memorandum of ministerial decision No. 30 of 2001, concerning professionals who are allowed to transfer their sponsorship, approved by the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, stated nine categories who are allowed to transfer sponsorship, namely:

Engineering degree holders, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, professors of universities and higher colleges, who hold master's or PhD, legal experts and consultants, economists, financial and administrative experts, who hold higher university degrees.

Programmers and system information analysts who hold university degrees in these fields, specialists and technicians working in drilling and refining oil, gas and related industries, sports coaches, specialists in air and sea navigation and pilots of ships and aircraft.

Media practitioners, legal translators, chefs working in first class hotels, who hold specialized degrees and have experience in the field, artistes, graphic designers, artists, heavy vehicle and mechanical equipment drivers, assistant pharmacists, lawyers, who hold licenses, legal researchers who hold university degrees, technicians working in medical and laboratory sciences, nutritionists and those who hold suitable degrees and specialists in education, including teachers, instructors and social workers, may also transfer sponsorship.

Managers with long or rare experience and those transferred from important economic sectors, agricultural guides and specialists who hold attested university certificates, accountants, who hold university degrees fall within the category.

The memo stipulated that in order for a worker to transfer sponsorship, they must work with the new employer in the same profession they were holding with the original, and that the new job has the same duties. The worker must hold a valid residence visa.

Workers of companies and establishments shall be transferred regardless of their categories, from a company to another owned by the same employer.

The principle of unity of partners in accordance with the incorporation contract or the trade license will be applicable.

According to the memorandum, sponsorship of workers of bankrupt companies or those shut down by legal or administrative rulings will be transferred in accordance with certain rules.

The memo stated that the ban stamp will not be applicable to workers in the government and the public sector and those sponsored by their relatives.

The sponsorship of workers in free zones may not be transferred even if the two companies involved are owned by the same person.

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Employment Ban

A one-year ban will be imposed and stamped on an employee's passport by the labor office upon termination of employment if the employee violates the employment contract, the Law, or the labor regulations.  Particularly the one year ban will apply to the employee if she commits the following acts:

1. If the employee leaves her employment without a justified cause before the end of a specified employment contract; or
2. In the case of an unlimited contract without giving one month's notice of termination; or
3. The employee leaves her employment before the lapse of one month's notice; or
4. The employee violates Article 120 of the Law; or
5. The employee works with another employer full/part time at the same time as working for her original employer.
These sanctions would only be applied if a complaint was filed by the employer.

A six-month ban will be imposed and stamped upon termination of employment on those who do not fall under one of the categories of professionals permitted to transfer their visas.

However, if the employment contract provides for a non-competition clause, stipulating that after the end of the contract, the employee shall not compete with the employer or participate in any competing project, and conditions of validity of such clause are met, namely the employee was 21 years old at the time of signing the contract and the clause is as far as time, place and nature of work are concerned limited to what is necessary to protect the legal interests of the employer, the expatriate employee may not work for a new employer even if her profession is listed in one of the categories of professionals permitted to transfer their visas.

Upon termination of her employment contract, an employee must apply for the cancellation of her dependent's visas, if any (husband, children) before her employer submits an application for the cancellation of her visa. This is not necessary for the transfer of sponsorship.

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