Get The Visibility Your Company Needs
Reduce compliance risks and mobility costs while managing individual and project-related travel with ImmiSMART: the solution that unifies your travel and mobility programs.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Immigration 2022 – A Look Back
December 9, 2022
The United Arab Emirates have implemented many changes to their immigration regulations, including significant changes to the country’s immigration system by introducing new visas, simplifying the golden visa requirements, announcing the cut-off date to fulfil Emiratization requirements, and unifying the validity of residence permits issued in Mainland and free-zone, etc.
These reforms are certain to be much-welcomed changes and appear to extend opportunities to various travellers, companies, and expat populations in the Emirates.
Below is a closer look at important UAE Immigration reforms that took place in 2022.
Mandatory Emiratization in UAE:
The Ministry of Emiratization and Human resource announced that all companies in the UAE with 50 or more employees are mandated to annually raise their Emiratization rate by 2 percent of overall skilled jobs. By end of the year 2022, two percent of a company’s skilled staff must be Emiratis. This must increase by two percent every year, to reach 10 percent by 2026.
From January 2023, if any company does not fulfill this requirement, the authority impose a fine of AED 6,000 monthly for every Emirati that has not been hired. This could equal Dh72,000 annually per unfilled Emirati position. The fine will be increased by Dh1,000 on an annual basis. As of December 2022, this applies to employers registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”). Therefore, it does not apply to free zone companies as of today and those companies exempted by MOHRE (who are free to join NAFIS on a voluntary basis).
Increase in grace period post cancellation of visa:
Per the announcement from the authorities, eligible foreigners holding work and residence authorizations will be granted a six-month grace period post cancellation of Work and Residence permits in order for the applicant to either secure a new visa or exit the country. However, we have noticed the authorities are issuing an extended grace period on a case-by-case basis which will be indicated on the cancellation document. Hence it is strongly recommended to check the grace period on the cancellation confirmation document once issued.
Pre-arranged 90 days visit visas are discontinued:
Authorities announced they have stopped issuing 90-day pre-arranged visit visas and will now issue either 30-day or 60-day visit visas which can be extended for a similar period in country.
UAE Visa will be denied for travelers with single name on the passport:
The UAE government has revised the naming guidelines for allowing entry to UAE. As per the new guidelines, passengers holding passports with [only] a single name and no other name, including (the father’s name or the family name) will not be accepted. Hence it is recommended to get the passport reissued from the country of origin reflecting a first and last/father’s name in the passport.
Free-zone authorities will no longer issue 3 years Work and Residence permit:
According to the update from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, all visas falling under the category of three years validity period across the UAE (3-year UAE Work and Residence visa including dependent visa) have been withdrawn, effective 3 October 2022, these visas will now be issued for a maximum validity of two years.
Green Visa (5-year validity)
The objective with this category is to allow “self-sponsorship” for many unique professionals to work in the UAE without needing an Emirati-based employer to provide sponsorship for the work permit and residency visa. As of October 3, 2022, for a period of five years, eligible freelancers, skilled workers, and investors and partners will be able to:
- Sponsor first degree relatives (includes spouses, children, and parents). Visa holders are allowed to sponsor unmarried children up to the age of 25 and unmarried daughters of any age.
- Leave to remain in the UAE for six months (versus 30 days under current law) upon expiration or cancellation of visa
- Dependents will receive same visa validity as principal applicant
Green Visa Requirements
Freelancers and/or self-employed applicants must have:
- a freelance/self-employment permit from Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- proof of a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma
- evidence of annual income from self-employment for the previous two years for an amount not less than AED 360,000, (roughly $98,000 USD) or prove financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE
Skilled employees must have:
- have a valid employment contract
- be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Level 1: Legislators, managers, and business executives, Level 2: Professionals in scientific, technical and human fields and Level 3: Technicians in scientific, technical and humanitarian fields)
- hold a minimum of bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- have a salary of not less than AED 15,000 (roughly $4,100 USD) per month
Investors or partners (replaces previous 2-year visa):
- approval of the investment and proof of investment (If the investor/partner has more than one license, the total invested capital will be calculated.)
- approval of the competent local authorities
Job Seekers Visa
This new visa is being introduced for job seekers looking to explore employment opportunities in the UAE for up to 60 days. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation have qualified eligibility to three different levels of professionals (and recent graduates). Further, applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree:
- Level 1: Legislators, managers, and business executives
- Level 2: Professionals in scientific, technical, and human fields
- Level 3: Technicians in scientific, technical, and humanitarian fields
Reduction in minimum salary for UAE Golden Visa under professional category:
As part of the expanded Golden Visa scheme announced by the authorities, more skilled professionals can obtain long-term residency, with the minimum monthly salary requirement reduced from Dh50,000 per the previous requirement to Dh30,000. The eligible professional’ categories include medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.
The Golden Visa will only allow a foreign citizen to legally reside in-country. In order to work for any entity, the employing entity is still required to secure a work permit/non-sponsored free-zone ID card, which will depend on where the entity is incorporated.
Benefits of Golden Visa:
- Applicant can reside in the UAE for long-term regardless as to whether the visa holder remains employed as the visa is self-sponsored Residence permit and it’s the privilege of not needing a sponsor.
- Dependents will be eligible for 10-year dependent residence permits.
- Ability to sponsor their family members, including spouses, parents and children regardless of age.
- Ability to stay outside the UAE for more than the usual period of six months in order to keep their residence visa valid.
- Ability to sponsor unlimited number of domestic helpers.
- Permits to remain valid for family members in the UAE until the permit’s expiration date, in the event the primary holder of the Golden Visa passes away.
UAE implements new visa overstay fines:
UAE visit visa holders who overstay their visas will have to pay a Dh50 per day fine instead of Dh100. Also, those overstaying on a UAE Residence permit (without renewing and staying in-country post-expiration) will have to pay twice the earlier fine; Dh50 per day instead of Dh25 per day.
Parents can sponsor sons until the age of 25 years:
Authorities have relaxed the rules which now allow parents to sponsor an adult son until the age of 25, provided the adult son is studying in university. Previously parents could only sponsor a son up to the age of 18. The residence visa is then issued on a yearly basis, and renewable until the student completes his studies.