UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – New Rules for DIFC Free Zone Foreign Employees
Effective immediately, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) free zone has announced changes to its foreign employee services.
What has changed?
All Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Employee Cards must now be renewed at least 30 days before expiry. Previously, renewal was possible even two days before expiry. All employees earning at least AED 4000 per month can now sponsor the family members for dependent visas. Previously this was not possible for female employees or those in lower-skilled jobs, regardless of the salary. Applicants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran must now provide their national ID, issued by their home country, in support of new employment and dependent visa applications. This was not required previously, but is in line with an announcement from the UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). Temporary work permits issued for employees under individual sponsorship can no longer be renewed before expiry, as previously. Instead, the employee must apply for a new work permit. However, a new work permit application cannot be accepted if the applicant has an existing valid work permit. Therefore, an employee wishing to obtain a new work permit must now wait to apply until after their previous work permit has expired, and cannot work in the DIFC during application processing, until the new permit is approved. When applying to transfer an employment visa from the Dubai government or another Free Zone entity to the DIFC, portal users will receive a notification from the DIFC once the transfer form is ready. They must then download this form, and have it signed and stamped by the current sponsor, before resubmitting it to the DIFC in hard copy, along with the applicant’s original passport. Applicants who need to submit biometrics for their Emirates ID (EID) registration, are advised to visit the EID Enrolment Centre in Al Karama (Emirates Post Office Building) instead of Umm Hurair Centre.
Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.