What is the change? The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has begun requiring health insurance policy numbers or other proof of insurance with all visa applications.

What does the change mean? Visa applicants should be prepared to provide proof of medical insurance in order to have visa applications processed. Previously, DIFC only required proof of insurance for renewal applications.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visa applications processed by DIFC authorities, including first-time applications, renewal applications and applications for dependents.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals seeking visas from DIFC authorities.
  • Impact on processing times: Visa applications may be unnecessarily delayed if applicants do not provide proof of medical insurance with their applications. Health insurance can normally be obtained in three to five days, but times will vary depending on the provider. Insurance applications require a stamped employment entry permit and an Emirates ID registration form, both of which are available once the foreign national has entered the UAE.

Background: In Dubai, all individuals, including foreign employees, must be covered by health insurance from a Dubai Health Authority-approved provider.

This requirement has immigration as well as legal consequences, and immigration authorities have increasingly begun to require proof of health insurance in the visa application process. The Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), for example, recently began requiring proof of health insurance with visa applications, in particular for visa renewals. DIFC is now requiring proof of insurance for all visa applications after initially only requiring it for visa renewals, and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) also requires proof of insurance for all visa applications. In most cases, authorities will require a health insurance policy number during the application phase. Additional health insurance card details can then be provided after the visa is issued.

The policy of requiring proof of health insurance is expected to be rolled out in all of Dubai’s freezones in the coming months.

BAL Analysis: DIFC companies should take note of the change and make sure all employees have proof of health insurance when submitting visa applications. Applicants who fail to do so risk having their applications rejected. Those with questions about whether a particular freezone or authority requires proof of insurance in the visa application process should contact BAL.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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