The UAE’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has suspended the employment sponsorship visa transfer option across free zones for companies.

‌Key Points:

  • Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) announced that visa transfer services have been suspended effective immediately to all free zones until further notice.
  • Companies can no longer apply for a visa transfer application from free zone to free zone and must now follow the standard immigration process.
  • All applications for residence visa transfers will be managed through a new visa service. Individuals seeking to transfer their visa must first apply for cancellation and then proceed with an application under the new visa service.

Additional Information: There are no changes for a new residence visa application, and the same in-country visa amendment and change status process is still applicable. The suspension applies only to visa transfer applications for company employees operating from free zone to free zone.

BAL Analysis: This suspension creates extra steps in the visa application process. Employees should expect longer processing times before they can begin work, and employers should expect to pay additional fees. Authorities have not yet announced whether the suspension is a temporary or permanent change. BAL will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group.

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