What is the change? The United Arab Emirates has introduced a new job-classification system that lists occupations that foreign nationals are eligible to fill.

What does the change mean? Mainland employers will need to consult the list for appropriate job titles and descriptions and make sure that foreign nationals have the relevant degree certificates matching the jobs in order to qualify for work permits.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits for employees of mainland companies.
  • Business impact: The new scheme is likely to require labor-market testing and degree certification for more jobs than under the previous scheme.
  • Impact on processing: In theory, processing times should decrease as a result of this change, although the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation has not confirmed any changes to processing times.
  • Next steps: Employers must use the new job-classification list for new work-permit applications. Renewal applications will not be immediately impacted, but in the future the job titles for renewals could be reduced to align with the list.

Background: The new scheme simplifies the previous scheme by reducing the number of jobs to fewer than 800 job titles classified into nine categories with a unique classification code. The previous scheme contained more than 3,000 job titles.

Analysis & Comments: The new job-classification system is one of the steps the UAE is taking toward greater Emiratisation and encouraging companies to hire local workers. Employers should anticipate that further steps are likely to follow from the job-title streamlining—for example, the government may move to restrict some job titles to Emirati nationals exclusively. Emiratisation measures that have always been strictly applied to state-owned companies are gradually being introduced for mainland-incorporation companies. While the UAE has announced that it will allow companies greater freedom by permitting 100-percent foreign-owned companies to incorporate on the mainland, the government will be looking to expand Emiratisation policies to cover foreign-owned mainland companies. Free-zone companies are not subject to Emiratisation initiatives and are unlikely to be for the foreseeable future.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.