Immigration and Employee sponsorship becomes a top priority when on-boarding a new employee. However, many often businesses hit roadblocks due to one or the other issues related to corporate documents or immigration application getting rejected by the authorities. This not only impacts business operation but also adds the time and effort required to resolve these issues which can be immense and overwhelming in some instances.
It is in the best interest of business to prevent such situations by following certain eligibility assessments and ensure compliance in all matters related to corporate files and employee documents. United Arab Emirates (UAE) has implemented immigration systems to protect both the employers and employees, provided they compliantly follow the rules and regulations of the country.
We shall further discuss the facts to keep in mind as a sponsor if you are a company in startup stage or settled business ready to recruit.
What are the some of the pre-requisites to sponsor employees?
The UAE employment and immigration regulations complement each other. Without a valid work permit and residence visa sponsored through a locally licensed and registered entity, it is not compliant for expats to work in the country. For a company to recruit a new hire either in mainland or one of the freezones the sponsoring business entity is required to be formally registered with various government authorities, including immigration, labour, etc., based on the jurisdiction of operation. Additionally, the business entity should demonstrate and meet the following requisites:
1. Active License:
Business licenses must be up-to-date as per regulatory requirements to avoid any sanctions or penalties for violation due to expired and invalid corporate documents. In UAE the commercial license is issued generally for 1 year.
2. Immigration file:
Business needs to register with the Immigration authority of the emirate where the company is established to obtain and hold a valid Company Establishment Card (CEC) or Company Immigration Card (CIC). The document stands mandatory for all immigration related procedures including obtainment of residency visa under company sponsorship.
3. MOHRE registration:
Businesses established in mainland region should register themselves with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to obtain the labour establishment card. This document issued by MOHRE (previously, Ministry of Labour) allows hiring of new employees, obtain work permit and lodge immigration visas with the respective authority. This registration is not applicable for business established in freezone jurisdiction.
4. Work Quota:
The process in obtaining quota varies from one jurisdiction to another and depends on the nature of business, size of the office space, and legal structure of the business entity. For freezone companies the work quota allocation is directly proportionate to the leased office space (eg: 1 quota for every 80 square feet).
5. Registration of authorized signatory:
Companies are required to register a company representative as their authorized signatory with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) and MOHRE for dealing with immigration related matters including providing signature on corporate forms and employment contracts. MOHRE issues a physical e-signature card under the name of the authorized representative for entities registered in mainland. However, for Freezone no physical card is issued though the representative details are updated in the freezone system.
On successful registration, business entity gains access to respective online portals, depending on the jurisdiction of entity registration and operation. Lodgment of immigration related applications including employment residence visa, obtainment of salary certificates, employment contracts, and/or cancellation of visa services are undertaken through these portals.
7. Health insurance:
Business entity is obliged to provide its employees with certain level of health insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum benefits stipulated by the health authority. On failing to comply with the regulation, periodic fines will be imposed on the sponsor with inability to obtain new visas and renew existing ones.
What are some of the delays in submitting or processing of work and residence visa applications?
Following are some of the circumstances or issues that may lead to unexpected interruptions in getting the employees onboarded in a timely manner:
1. Unavailability or insufficiency of approved work quota during submission of the employment visa application with the relevant authorities.
2. Sanction on the company’s on-line portals due to violations or not updating company profile as per regulatory requirements.
3. Non-renewal of the adequate corporate licenses or documents prior to their expiry date.
4. Unavailability of authorized signatories to sign contracts or other immigration related documentation to procure work or residence visas.
5. Delay in obtainment of police clearance certificate from employee’s home country or country of residence to rule out possibility of any criminal convictions during security screening.
6. Prior open employee immigration files or improper immigration exits leading to red flags in Immigration system.
7. Delay in attestation of employee’s educational certificates from UAE Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their home country.
8. Positive test result of expat for certain communicable diseases/conditions such as HIV and or TB while undergoing medical tests at government approved health centers.
What are some of the immigration compliance checks that businesses should undertake on a periodic basis?
Non-compliance with UAE immigration and labour policies can lead to imposition of fines and other sanctions including revocation of future sponsorship privileges. In instances of extreme noncompliance, trade license managers of such companies can also be held accountable and be subject to fines. Foreign national employees can also be fined and have their residence visas cancelled or be deported from the country along with future immigration and labour bans. Below are some of the compliance checks that business can undertake on a routine basis to avoid such issues:
1. Business should place mechanisms to ensure that their corporate and company documents are valid and renewed in a timely manner.
2. Placement of an optimum expiry tracking system enables businesses to guarantee timely reminder of upcoming expiry date of employee’s residence visa, Emirates ID card and UAE Labour card.
3. Business should periodically review their current immigration company policy to check if it is in line with the prevailing Immigration regulations of UAE.
4. Utilize a robust immigration management platform where all employee immigration related documents are electronically filed and stored for future reference.
5. Business should setup a streamlined process for tracking immigration updates, rules and regulations along with preplanning of new hires for the year.
6. Ensure proper cancellation of residence visa and file closure of exiting employees to release work quota (and bank guarantee as applicable).
How can BM Strategies assist?
Given the dynamic nature of the immigration environment, we at BM Strategies guide our clients on the best and most efficient options in developing, implementing, and managing compliant UAE immigration and PRO service programs. Please reach out to us for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our services include:
Employment Residence Visas
Dependent Residence Visas
Emirates Id Cards
Corporate Documents Procurement/Renewal
Expiry Tracking and Renewal
De-registrations and Amendments
GCC Pension Registry Management
Document Procurement and Attestation Services
Benchmarking and Consultations
Strategic Planning and Support
Note: The information provided here are only for the purpose of providing an overview regarding the dependent visa renewal and processes. The immigration regulations are subject to change from time to time from one jurisdiction to another. Hence the information provided hereby should not be considered an opinion or advice from BM Strategies but only a practical guide for general information.
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Posted on 06-Mar-2021.