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Sponsoring your Employees in the UAE

by Helen Barrett in CBD Insights

With the exception of wives, unmarried adult daughters and minor children (who may be sponsored by their husbands or fathers), all expatriates must be sponsored by their employer (‘Company’) to live and work in the UAE.  Without a residency visa an individual may not rent property, apply for utilities connections, obtain a driving licence, register a vehicle or open a bank account.     

To obtain a UAE residency visa for an employee, the Company must hold a valid business licence and be registered with the Ministry of Interior (‘Immigration’) and Ministry of Labour (‘MOL’), more commonly known as opening an ‘e-file’).  As your corporate sponsor or nominee local partner, CBD will arrange for the Company’s registration with the Ministries of Interior and Labour so it can start to engage staff.

The visa application process involves several stages to be undertaken at various Government departments and must be supported by various documents at each stage. A full list of the supporting documents will be provided by CBD. 

If the employee’s designation is that of manager or higher, e.g. General Manager, he/she will need to provide an attested degree certificate in support of the visa application.  In the case of employees who regularly travel throughout the GCC, it will be essential for them to have ‘management status’ on their visa in order for them to be travel freely throughout other GCC countries.

The first stage involves the Company obtaining a ‘quota’ from the MOL.  This is effectively permission to engage a particular nationality and gender for a specific role.  Once the quota has been approved, an MOL standard form offer letter must be prepared for signature by the employee and CBD (as corporate sponsor/nominee partner).  It is possible for CBD to grant the Company signatory powers, if required.

After the letter has been submitted to and processed by the MOL, the next stage is to apply for a work permit.  Once the work permit has been issued, the immigration costs must be paid and a AED 3,000 bank guarantee deposited with the MOL.  The bank guarantee of AED 3,000 will be released to the Company upon cancellation of the employee’s visa, in the event of a dispute, of in the event of the Company’s non-compliance with its employment obligations.

Once these payments have been made, the application for an entry permit can be made. If you are engaging an employee from overseas, it is preferable for the above stages to be undertaken before the employee arrives in the UAE as this will save time when they arrive.   

Your employees will then need to undergo a medical, which includes a blood test and a chest X-ray. The authorities do have the right to request your employees to undergo further tests for the purposes of their visa application if deemed necessary.   A representative of CBD will accompany your employee to the medical clinic for these tests.

If this is your employee’s first UAE residence visa, an application must also be made to the Emirates Identity Authority for an identity card, which involves providing their fingerprints. 

A residency visa, which is valid for 2 years, is usually obtained 2 to 3 days after receipt of satisfactory medical results.   Thereafter, a standard form MOL employment contract will be issued for signature by both parties and the Emirates identity card will be issued to complete the application process.

Provided that the application is straight-forward, it should take approximately 3 to 4 weeks from submission of the application for a work permit to obtain a residency visa.   If an employee wishes to bring his/her family to live in the UAE, he/she may sponsor them for the purposes of residing in the UAE once they have obtained their own employment visa. 

Please contact us for further information on CBD’s PRO Services.