What is the change?  Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have said that beginning Feb. 4 new work visa applications must include a certificate of good conduct ( police clearance certificate).

What does the change mean? The change reportedly stems from a 2017 cabinet decision and will add time to the visa application process in some cases. The rule will affect new work visa applicants, but will not affect tourists or dependents. It is not yet clear whether it will be applied to visa renewal applicants.

  • Implementation time frame: The new requirement is expected to be implemented Feb. 4.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas.
  • Who is affected: First-time visa applicants. It is not yet clear whether the change will also apply to visa renewal applicants.
  • Impact on processing times: The change could add as much as six weeks to the visa application process, depending on how long it takes applicants to obtain a certificate of good conduct in their home country (or country of their residency for the last five years) and how long it takes to complete the legalization processes.  

Background: Authorities have described the new requirement as a security measure. Although the precise requirements are not yet available, Emirates News Agency and other media outlets have reported that certificates of good conduct will be required from the countries in which applicants have resided in the past five years. BAL has confirmed that the rule will be implemented for new work visa applicants, but not tourists or dependents. It is not yet clear whether it will affect work visa renewal applicants. It seems likely that the rule will apply to freezone work visa applications as well as mainland visa applications, but at this point this is not certain.

BAL Analysis: BAL continues to seek clarification on a number of points related to this development. BAL can work on a case-by-case basis with clients who may be affected to determine what requirements they should anticipate. An updated client alert will be provided as soon as more information becomes available.

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

Copyright © 2018 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