The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has introduced new rules for work permit renewals effective immediately. The new guidelines will also impact job title amendments. Let’s delve into why this was necessary, what the new rules are and how they will impact migrant workers.
The UAE’s population is around 9.1 million, and approximately 12% of that number are UAE citizens. That means roughly 8 million people living in the UAE are foreign nationals, mainly on a work visa. The migrant population in the UAE makes up a whopping 80% of the workforce. The numbers indicate an imbalance so huge that it would be fitting to term it disproportionate.
The UAE Government hopes to correct the flawed numbers by creating more employment avenues for the Emirati population, in the private sector, particularly in skilled jobs. The new regulations regarding work permit renewals and certificate attestation in UAE were introduced as part of this drive.
Previous Rules for Work Permit Renewals
The previous work permit rules were not as stringent. It was easier for companies to employ a skilled labour force composed of migrant workers. The workers had it easy too. They had no obligation to change the job title based on which they had been issued a work visa at the time of renewal of their work permit.
The rules were simple:
- Renewal of work permit: There were no restrictions on the applicants over retaining their previous work title when renewing the work permit, even though the new job title did not fit the updated occupation list.
- Job title discrepancies: Earlier, disparities between job titles in labour and immigration files were a rarity. Different government departments worked in sync with each other and followed the same guidelines.
- Educational Certificates: Previously, the need to submit proof of academic qualification was limited to two situations only—for new work permits and when changing job title to a position requiring a specific educational qualification. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) did not ask for the submission of academic certificates for the renewal of the work permit or other labour-related proceedings like modifying salary information.
The Current Rule for Work Permit Renewals and Educational Certificates
The MOHRE has instituted new policies concerning job title amendments for work permit renewals, job title inconsistencies and academic certificate requirements, all effective immediately.
- Renewal of work permit: Based on the new rules introduced by the Government of UAE, all foreign nationals renewing their work permit on the mainland of the UAE are now required to modify their job title if not mentioned in MOHRE’s current list of occupations for immigrant workers.
- Job Title Discrepancies: In some instances, the job title mentioned on the migrant workers’ work permit does not match that printed on the visa sticker validated on the passport. That is a discrepancy, and that needs to be corrected. The difference usually occurs because different government agencies do not follow a standard occupation list. If an inconsistency exists in foreign nationals’ immigration documents, the employer is directed to contact the immigration authorities to rectify them.
- Education Certificates: If, as per the new law, educational certificate attestation in UAE are required for a job title, applicants working on mainland UAE, renewing their work permits or amending remuneration details or job title, must submit attested educational documents along with the work permit renewal application. Job titles are now classified into five categories of professional skills. As per the occupational classification scheme, not all types require a degree certificate. Applicants must identify the category to confirm if it requires them to submit educational documents.
Impact on Work Permit Renewals
Change always has an impact. Let’s find out the effect the new work permit renewals policies have.
Renewal of work permit:
- In case a job title is not listed on the occupational classification scheme, then employers will need to change the job title when renewing the work permit of their employee.
- Employers must now pick a job title that fits the foreign national employee’s educational qualifications and role.
- If the occupational classification scheme necessitates an attested education certificate for a job, then a certified copy must be submitted with the application before the work visa can be renewed.
Job Title Discrepancy:
The new rules are pretty strict about the discrepancy in the job titles. In case a difference exists, then employers can be asked to pay a fee to the government. And the foreign national will be barred from overseas travel until the visa sticker is updated on their passport.
- Foreign nationals whose job titles have changed to include evidence of qualification and who previously did not have to present educational documents can expect delays in the immigration process until their educational documents are attested for use in the UAE.
- Foreign nationals employed in the UAE must keep their academic documents for use in future.