What is the change? Dubai will soon enter the second phase of its program to require employers to provide health insurance to all employees, including foreign nationals.

What does the change mean? Beginning July 31, companies employing 100 to 999 employees will be required to offer health insurance to all employees. Companies that do not provide health insurance will be unable to sponsor foreign employees applying for visas or renewals.

  • Implementation time frame: July 31.
  • Visas/permits affected: All work visas, renewals, transfers, trade licenses and establishment cards.
  • Who is affected: Companies employing 100 to 999 employees.
  • Impact on processing times: The requirement should not affect processing times, except in cases where companies required to provide health insurance fail to do so.
  • Business impact: The change affects the cost of business and adds a prerequisite to visa applications.
  • Next Steps: Medium-sized companies that do not offer health insurance to their employees should develop plans to do so as soon as possible.

Background: Dubai adopted a universal healthcare law in 2013. The Dubai Health Authority is working with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs to ensure that companies that fail to meet their obligations under the law will be ineligible to sponsor employees for visas or visa renewals. Some free zones, including the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), already enforce universal healthcare requirements for all companies, regardless of size.

Elsewhere, however, the requirement is being implemented in phases. The first phases of the law, covering companies with 1,000 or more employees, took effect last year. As of July 31, the rules will cover companies employing 100 or more employees. Companies with fewer than 100 employees have until June 2016 to provide health insurance.

BAL Analysis: Companies covered by the second phase of Dubai’s universal healthcare law must provide health insurance to all employees, including foreign employees, by July 31 or risk significant difficulties in the visa process.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the United Arab Emirates. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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