United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Dubai Development Authority (DDA), Dubai Government entity established with the objective to empower business by providing business friendly environment, is part of TECOM Group. DDA and TECOM Group operate various information technology, media, science, education, design and industrial business communities, including:
• Dubai Media City (DMC)
• Dubai Studio City (DSC)
• Dubai Internet City (DIC)
• Dubai Knowledge Park (DKP)
• Dubai Design District (d3)
• Dubai International Academic City (DIAC)
• Dubai Science Park (DSP)
• Dubai Outsource City (DOC)
• Dubai Production City (DPC)
Companies registered with the DDA’s business communities must ensure that their employees are authorized to work in the Free Zone jurisdiction by either procuring an employment residence visa, an identity card, or an access approval.
The issuance of the visa depends on the business entity as well as the foreign national meeting the eligibility requirement set by both DDA as well as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
Step by step overview of the employment visa process in the DDA free zone:
Employees must have an employment residence visa issued by DDA, unless they are under the sponsorship of either their husband/father or a GCC National, in which scenario, they are required to have a work authorization, non-sponsored id card.
There are number of steps involved in procuring the residence visa before the employee is fully compliant with the immigration requirements. It is important to complete assessment to ensure that the employee meets the specified eligibility criteria to avoid any delay in the onboarding process. The basic steps for the procurement of residence visa are:
a. Legalisation/Attestation of Education Certificate
b. Issuance of Employment Entry Permit (EEP)
c. Entry into the UAE or Change of immigration Status
d. Medical Examination and fingerprint scan
e. Enrollment for Health Insurance
f. Approval and endorsement of Residence Visa
g. Issuance of Emirates ID card
When can the employee sponsor the Dependents:
Please note that the residence permit application for the dependents can only be begun once the employee has entered UAE and completed the residence visa stamping. Employee is also required to rent a residence apartment and procure attested tenancy contract, Ejari.
Read Blog: Sponsoring family Residence Visa in the UAE
Can a woman under the sponsorship of her husband/parent work with a DDA registered company?
Yes, the female employee would need to obtain a Non-sponsored ID card from DDA which will allow her to work with the business operating in the freezone. The document issued would be valid for one year and needs to be renewed annually.
Can an employment visa from any UAE Free zone be transferred to a company registered with DDA?
Employees working with a Freezone registered company or government organization are allowed to transfer their employment sponsorship to any business registered with the Dubai Development Authority provided they are able to obtain an approval from their previous employer. The individual need not cancel his or her dependents residence visas. However, transfer of residence visa option is only available, if the previous visa is issued in Dubai. Meaning that visa issued by a freezone outside the emirate of Dubai is not transferrable to DDA.
Read Blog:Transfer of residence visas
Can the employment visa be transferred from one company to another company within DDA?
Employee working with the same Freezone may transfer their employment to another company within DDA, however they are required to obtain a no-objection certificate from their current sponsor.
What would be the validity of the residence visa issued by DDA?
DDA employment residence visas are primarily issued and valid for a maximum period of 3 years and may be renewed in 3-year increments, however depending on the company’s business requirement a 1-year residence permit may also be obtained. Dependent residence visas are linked to the residence visa of the sponsoring employee. It is not necessary to have the same expiry dates as that of the employee and need to be renewed prior to the expiry date mentioned on their visa.
What is the age limit for procuring employment residence visa?
Businesses can sponsor a foreign national aged 18 and above through the DDA freezone. The UAE’s Labour Law does not specify an upper age for the end of employment. The employment residence visa is renewable prior to its expiry and currently there is no restriction on the number of renewals the company can request for an employee. The issuance of employment visa for employees aged 65 and above is based on the discretion of DDA and GDRFA.
How long is the employment entry permit (EEP) valid for entry?
Employment entry permits are issued as an e-permit with a validity of sixty (60) days commencing from date of issuance. Employees are legally eligible to enter the country before the validity mentioned on the EEP. Once the employee has travelled to Dubai and the individual is expected to be present inside the UAE during the entire time of processing of their medical, Emirates ID application, and residence visa endorsement.
Is medical examination required even though the medical test was taken recently?
Medical and Biometric examination are scheduled within 4-5 days of employee’s arrival into the UAE on the employment entry permit at the DDA’s approved center. The medical examination includes blood tests for detecting HIV/AIDS, as well as a chest x-ray for tuberculosis screening. However, if you have taken medical test recently, on producing a proof of this undertaking the x-ray requirement may be waived off. However, blood test is required in most cases.
Can I travel internationally once the residence visa is issued?
Once the employment residence visa is endorsed onto the passport the employee may resume international travels immediately. The maximum time frame stated by law for an individual to remain outside the country is 180 days. Failure to comply may result in the visa being invalidated.
Is biometric or fingerprint scan required, even though I hold a previous Emirates Id Card?
On arrival of the employee into the UAE on the employment entry permit or on approval of the status amendment application in case of employee being inside the country, the medical examination application is prepared and Emirates ID registration form is filed through the Emirates ID authority. Generally, biometric examination is not required in case the employee holds a previous Emirates ID card. However in certain instances the individual may need to attend the Emirates ID center for biometric or fingerprint scan, if requested by the authorities.
I travelled to Dubai on Entry permit, can I leave UAE while the residence visa application is in progress?
Upon entry into Dubai on the employment entry permit, the individual is expected to remain inside the country until the completion of the entire immigration process. He/she would be authorized to resume travel once the residence visa process is completed and the residence visa is endorsed onto the passport.
I am on a tourist visa, can I convert this entry to employment visa without exiting Dubai?
In case of individual already present inside the country on a cancelled residence permit or visit visa, an amendment application can be filed with the Dubai Development Authority to convert the current immigration status from cancelled/tourist to resident without having to exit the country.
Is the bank guarantee applicable during the residence visa application?
DDA authority primarily levies a standard bank guarantee deposit of AED2500 from the employer at the beginning of the employment relationship. Businesses can reclaim the deposit back from DDA once the employment has ended and the visa is cancelled.
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 immigration 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 01-May-2021.