What is the change? Immigration authorities in the United Arab Emirates have begun allowing foreign nationals to enter the country on short-stay visit visas and apply for work permits in country, as officials seek to alleviate processing delays associated with new work permit documentation requirements.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals may enter the UAE on short-stay visit visas and apply for work permits without having to leave the country.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: UAE companies in Dubai mainland, Abu Dhabi and all free zones.
  • Impact on processing times: The change will save time in the work permit application process.
  • Business impact: The process allows greater flexibility for employers and foreign employees and assignees to travel to the UAE and complete the process while in the country.

Background: The measures aim to reduce delays caused in part by recent changes to work permit rules. Since Jan. 1, mainland employers have been required to issue employment offer letters that conform to the Ministry of Labour’s approved standard employment contract before work permits are issued. This has caused delays, especially for employees outside the country, because documents have to be couriered to the employee for fingerprinting and then back to the MOL before work permits can be issued. Authorities have now updated their systems to allow foreign nationals to enter the country on a short-term visa, complete the work permit application process and receive work permits without leaving the country. Officials hope the change will reduce wait times and help eliminate backlogs.

BAL Analysis: Employers facing possible delays in obtaining work authorization for foreign workers should discuss the options available to them with their BAL attorney, including the possibility of entering the UAE on a short-term visit visa and applying for work permits in country.

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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