IMPACT – Medium

What are the changes? The Ministry of Labour plans to revamp the visa system by getting rid of unnecessary paper documents and issuing electronic work permits and labor cards; this is expected to reduce processing times from 15 days to as few as two days.

What does the change mean? The overhaul would significantly improve processing times and reduce the paper trail required for visa and work permit processing.

  • Implementation timeframe: While the plan to move to e-cards is underway, the implementation date has not yet been announced.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, labor cards.
  • Who is affected: All work permit applicants.
  • Impact on processing times: Significantly faster, reduced from 15 days to as little as two days.
  • Business impact: Reduced paper documentation and faster processing times should result in reduced costs and a smoother application process for expats and assignees.

Background: The Ministry of Labour announced a plan to overhaul the visa system in a move towards smart government and streamlined processing.

Specifically, work permit applicants will no longer need to produce paper documents such as a passport, visa and medical certificate, according to comments by Undersecretary for Labour Affairs Humaid bin Dimas.

“The Ministry will now only accept a labor contract signed between the worker and the employer as it includes all required data,” Dimas told Emirates 24/7. “The ministry will then approve it and issue an E-contract, which will then be sent to the Ministry of Interior through a computer link so it will issue visas to workers after they [have] produced [a] medical certificate and other documents.”

He predicted the new system would cut processing time from 15 days to less than 48 hours.

BAL analysis: The move toward electronic processing will benefit employers and employees applying for work permits by reducing redundant documentation and speeding up processing times.

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

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact