United Arab Emirates
Employment visa (entry permit) applicants from certain countries will soon have to process their immigration applications through designated UAE consular service centres in their home country before entering the UAE, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
Applications for employment residence permit renewal as well as new residence visa applications for dependants will not be impacted by this change. Further details are expected in upcoming months, including applicability of the new process to employers in free zones.
Anticipated Steps for Employees
It is expected that the below steps will be required for affected foreign nationals to be able to enter the UAE:
The foreign national will have to sign an MOHRE-approved employment offer letter (in effect since January 1, 2016);
The foreign national’s employer will have to obtain a work permit and employment entry permit in the UAE;
The foreign national will have to undergo a medical examination in an accredited clinic in their home country; and
The foreign national will have to visit a UAE consular service center to submit biometrics and application documents and to obtain an entry visa endorsement.
There are no changes to in-country processes, including a second medical examination, Emirates Identification registration and employment residence permit endorsement.
In phases, foreign nationals from the following countries will need to obtain consular approval prior to entering the UAE:
Sri Lanka; and
The list may be extended at the later stage.
Consular service centers are now available in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya and Sri Lanka. The MOFAIC plans to open more consular service centers in Egypt, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia during this year and additional centers in Egypt, India, Nigeria and Pakistan in 2017.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Due to the new consular process for certain foreign nationals, affected travellers should ensure they have an additional blank page in their passport (in addition to two pages that are already mandatory) for entry visa endorsement. Affected foreign nationals residing in a third country will be required to travel to their home country to apply for the entry visa.
Employers should prepare for longer processing times and potential additional costs related to the visa process.