What is the change? A new working permit, good for a two-year period, is now available for foreign nationals.

What does the change mean? As of Feb. 5, the Work Permit Unit of the Ministry of Interior is accepting applications for two-year permits, as well as one-year and three-month work permits previously available.

  • Implementation timeframe: Feb. 5.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits. Note: The longer working permit duration does not affect the B-1 working visa which remains limited to one year only.
  • Impact on processing times: The processing time to extend a one-year B-1 visa for a second year (to match a two-year work permit) is expected to be shortened to 45 days.
  • Business impact: Companies can benefit from the longer permit duration, but are likely to undergo more rigorous scrutiny than when applying for the shorter-duration work permits.
  • Next steps: Regulations are expected shortly that will detail procedures, government fees and processing times. BAL will report this news when available.

Background: The Work Permit Unit of the Ministry of Interior recently announced that starting Feb. 5, it will issue working permits for durations of either three months, one year or two years. With a two-year permit, foreign employees will not have to go through the process of extending one-year permits. However, at this time, the B-1 working visa issued in the employee’s passport is still only valid for a maximum of one year. Therefore, workers on the new two-year work permit must apply to extend their visas shortly before the end of the first year.

BAL Analysis: Companies now have a new work permit option for longer assignments and projects extending beyond one year. However, we anticipate that those applying for the new two-year working permits will be scrutinized more heavily than for the shorter permits, and will have to justify the longer working period with additional supporting documentation.

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