Indian nationals are now required to apply for a pre-approved entry permit to obtain a visa on arrival in the United Arab Emirates.

Key Points:

  • Indian nationals who hold valid status in the U.S., U.K. or EU are required to apply for a pre-approved entry permit to be granted a visitor entry visa upon arrival. This status is valid for a period of 14 days and can be extended for a similar period for one time only. Previously, a visa on arrival could be obtained without advance visa arrangements.
  • To be eligible, applicants must possess an Indian passport and either: a U.S. visit visa, U.S. green card, U.K. residence visa or an EU residence visa valid for a minimum of six months. Passengers must have a printed e-visa confirmation — applications can be completed here.

BAL Analysis: Indian nationals are advised to apply for a pre-approved entry permit before travel to the UAE. Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date. The issuance of the visa on arrival is at the discretion of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. BAL will provide further updates as information becomes available.

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

Copyright © 2024 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 copyright@bal.com.

The Emirati government has provided additional details on the new Gulf Cooperation Council tourist visa as well as announced a new gaming visa to boost tourism.

Key Points:

  • The new tourist visa will be called the GCC Grand Tours visa and will be available by the end of 2024.
  • The visa will be similar to the Schengen visa, allowing foreign nationals to travel on one multiple-entry tourist visa through the six GCC member states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
    • Additional details are yet to be confirmed, but it is expected that the visa may allow for an extended 30-day tourism stay — longer than the currently permitted maximum — and no additional fees to apply for eligible travelers who hold a passport valid for at least six months.
  • In addition, Dubai has launched a gaming visa initiative as part of the Dubai Program for Gaming 2033.
    • The long-term cultural visa is designed to welcome artists and creators under the creative and talented accreditation certificate.
    • Individuals must submit their applications via the official website, be at least 25 years old and are required to submit a copy of their passport along with their professional CV.

Additional Information: UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also recently announced an update to its visa exemption policy that allows nationals from 87 countries to enter without a pre-entry visa. The full list of eligible countries can be found here. The government has undertaken several measures recently to expedite and attract foreign travel.

BAL Analysis: The announcement of a Schengen-style tourist visa for the GCC member states is a highly anticipated development. Foreign nationals are currently required to obtain separate tourist visas to travel to these countries, and the governments hope that a unified tourist visa will simplify travel for its citizens and boost each nation’s economies.

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

Copyright © 2024 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 copyright@bal.com.

The Emirati government has reached an agreement with the Republic of Armenia on a mutual visa-free policy.

Key Points:

  • Citizens of both countries will be able to travel without the need to apply for an entry visa as long as they hold a passport with at least six months of validity.
  • Eligibility will vary from nationality to nationality, and visa fees may apply for individuals above the age of 18.
  • Travelers will be allowed a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period.

Additional Information: The Emirati government has introduced various measures recently to increase inbound travel from foreign tourists. A separate mutual visa-free travel agreement with Uzbekistan was recently announced. The agreement will allow citizens holding passports with at least six months of validity to enter and stay for a period of up to 30 days per visit.

BAL Analysis: The new agreements are designed to help foster stronger ties and make exploration and cultural exchange between other countries more accessible. The Emirati government also hopes to create opportunities for increased tourism to stimulate economic growth.

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

Copyright © 2024 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 copyright@bal.com.

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.

Copyright © 2024 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

The Emirati government has announced that it will expand its Emiratization requirements to small businesses in 2024.

Key Points:

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, businesses in certain industries with 20 to 49 employees must meet the semiannual Emiratization requirement to avoid penalties. Industries impacted by the requirement include:
    • Administrative and support services.
    • Arts and entertainment.
    • Construction.
    • Education.
    • Financial and insurance activities.
    • Formation and communications.
    • Healthcare and social work.
    • Hospitality and residency services.
    • Mining and quarrying.
    • Professional and technical activities.
    • Real estate.
    • Transformative industries.
    • Transportation and warehousing.
    • Wholesale and retail.
  • Companies with 20 to 49 employees who fail to employ at least one Emirati in 2024 will face a fine of 96,000 AED (about US$26,000). The fine will increase to 108,000 AED for businesses that do not hire at least two Emiratis in 2025.
  • Further violations include reducing the number of employees or modifying their classification or any other method to circumvent the Emiratization targets.

Background: Previously, Emiratization targets only required employers with 50 employees or more to increase the number of its Emirati employees in skilled positions by 1% every six months, ultimately achieving a 2% Emiratization by the end of each year. Employers are expected to achieve a 10% Emiratization rate by the end of 2026.

BAL Analysis: The Emirati government announced the Emiratization program expansion to increase the number of Emirati nationals employed in the private sector. Employers should plan ahead to ensure they meet the new employment requirements to avoid applicable fines.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

The Emirati government has extended the deadline for employers with 50 or more employees to meet the semiannual Emiratization requirement.

Key Points:

  • Employers with 50 or more employees now have until July 7 to meet the semiannual Emiratization requirement.
  • Beginning July 8, noncompliant employers will face a 42,000 AED (about US$11,400) financial fine for each Emirati not appointed according to the semiannual Emiratization targets.
  • Further violations will result in the government reducing the number of employees or modifying their classification or any other method to circumvent the Emiratization targets.

Background: Emiratization targets require employers with 50 or more employees to increase the number of Emirati employees in skilled positions by 1% every six months, ultimately achieving a 2% Emiratization by the end of each year. Employers are expected to achieve a 10% Emiratization rate by the end of 2026.

BAL Analysis: Emirati authorities delayed the deadline to meet the Emiratization requirement in consideration of the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday. Employers should plan ahead to ensure they meet the new employment requirements to avoid applicable fines.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

The Emirati government has ended its grace period policy for foreign nationals who overstay their visitor visa in Dubai.

Key Points:

  • Visitor visa holders will no longer be given a 10-day grace period if they overstay their visa in Dubai. Previously, visitors were able to stay in Dubai 10 days past their visa’s expiration date without being fined.
  • Those who overstay their visitor visa in Dubai will be fined 50 AED (about US$13.60) per day.
  • Visitor visa holders can apply for a 30-day extension visa through authorized travel or tourism companies.

Additional Information: Dubai is the last emirate to remove the 10-day overstay grace period. All visitor visas holders must leave the country or extend their visa to avoid overstay fines. This regulation does not affect nationalities eligible for 30- or 90-day visas on arrival.

BAL Analysis: The Emirati government ended the 10-day overstay grace period for visitor visas in Dubai to align its policies with the rest of the country. Visitor visa holders who need to stay in the country beyond their visa’s validity should apply for an extension to avoid fines and complications.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

The Emirati government has announced that it will fine employers up to 500,000 AED (about US$136,000) for not meeting Emiratization requirements.

Key Points:

  • Employers who do not meet their Emiratization requirement will be fined:
    • 100,000 AED for the first violation.
    • 300,000 AED for the second violation.
    • 500,000 AED for the third violation.
  • Noncompliant employers must make an additional 42,000 AED financial contribution for each Emirati not appointed according to the semiannual Emiratization targets.
  • The violations include reducing the number of employees, modifying their classification or any other method to circumvent the Emiratization targets.

Background: Emiratization targets require employers with 50 employees or more to increase the number of its Emirati employees in skilled positions by 1% every six months, ultimately achieving a 2% Emiratization by the end of each year. Employers are expected to achieve a 10% Emiratization rate by the end of 2026.

BAL Analysis: Employers should plan ahead to ensure they meet the new employment requirements to avoid applicable fines.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

Emirati authorities recently implemented the Wage Protection System for companies registered in the Dubai Multi Commodities Center Free Zone.

Key Points:

  • Companies registered with the DMCC Free Zone are now required to pay foreign nationals who hold a valid or expired employment visa or Personal Identity Card through the WPS.
  • Companies must register new employees for salary transfer immediately after the Company Employment Card is issued or after the PIC application is closed.
  • Companies can only pay salaries in the UAE’s national currency.
  • More information regarding the implementation of the WPS is available here.

Additional Information: Emirati authorities will not fine companies that do not comply with this requirement for 2023; however, beginning in 2024, companies that do not pay their employees through the WPS will be fined.

BAL Analysis: Emirati authorities will require companies registered with the DMCC to pay employees through the WPS to ensure foreign workers’ wages are protected.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.

IMPACT — MEDIUM

The Emirati government recently announced that it would allow foreign nationals to apply for an entry period extension if unable to enter the country.

Key Points:

  • Foreign nationals who are unable to enter the United Arab Emirates within the initial 60-day validity period of their visa can now extend their entry validity period for an additional 60 days. To apply for the validity extension, individuals must:
  • Previously, foreign nationals who were unable to enter the country within the initial 60-day period had to apply for a new visa to enter the country.
  • The entry validity period extension is available for all visa types.

BAL Analysis: Emirati authorities are now offering the 60-day entry validity period extension to increase flexibility and simplify immigration procedures for foreign nationals who are unable to travel to the country within the initial 60-day period.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 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 copyright@bal.com.