UAE labor card: Everything you need to know

As an HR professional in the UAE, getting the work permit approved for your employees is a crucial part of the hiring process. Read on to learn more about the process and documents required.

Any individual seeking a job in the UAE is aware of the requirement for a work visa. It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain the work permit for the employee. The process of applying for and getting the work permit approved often involves multiples steps in the process.

To give you a background, a labor card or a work permit identifies an employee and their place of work. Ideally, if the employee is traveling to UAE for the work opportunity, the work permit must be obtained within 60 days from the date of arrival in the country. If there is a delay, the employer must bear the penalties.

A residence visa is not the same as a work permit. Any foreign expat, who is not a UAE National, must have a valid UAE residency visa to live and work in the country. The residency visa then allows the expat to obtain a work permit which is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). There are different types of work permits in the UAE and these depend on the duration and type of employment, however, typically the work permit is issued for 2 years.“The work permit, Emirates ID and residency visa are valid for 2 years only. It is the responsibility of the employer to get the renewals done on behalf of the employee.”

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Once the residency visa is obtained, the employer can apply for the work permit. The documents needed for a work permit are as follows:

  • Applicant’s photographs
  • Residency visa
  • Valid passport (minimum six-month validity required)
  • Valid health certificate
  • Three copies of the employment contract – one for the employer, one for the employee and one for the Ministry of Labor
  • Education certificates and other evidence of professional qualifications
  • Sponsoring company’s valid trade license

Once you have the documents ready, the steps for applying for the work permit can be broken down as follows:

  1. The first step is to get the visa quota approval from the MoHRE. In case your company is in any of the free zones, the approval must be obtained before the employee enters the UAE. This can take up to 3 business days for approval.
  2. Ensure that you have the signed contract letter from the employee, both in English and Arabic as this will be reviewed by the Ministry. Now, you have to get the work permit application approved.
  3. Once you have the approvals in place, the Ministry now issues an entry visa, also known as the ‘pink visa’. This allows the employee to enter the country legally and is valid for 2 months from the date of issue while the formal work permit is being approved.
  4. Now that your employee has entered the country, you can begin the work permit process. If the employee is entering the country, the entry visa can be picked up at the airport. Otherwise, if the employee was already in the country on another visa, they must apply for a change of status after the entry visa is issued.
  5. All expats are required to go through medical screening which usually includes a chest X-ray and a blood test. They are also required to get the relevant form typed and go to Emirates ID service center. A valid passport and entry visa are also required to apply for the Emirates ID and to complete the biometrics.
  6. Once the medical screening test results are received and recorded in the application form, the signed labor contract must also be submitted as a part of the work permit application.
  7. Now that the work permit is received, payroll can begin through the official UAE system. Since health insurance is mandatory in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you must ensure that the employee is included in your group medical insurance.
  8. The final step is the stamping of the residence visa on the employee’s passport and the collection of the Emirates ID, along with the formal work permit.

The work permit, Emirates ID and residency visa are valid for only 2 years. It is the responsibility of the employer to get the renewals done on behalf of the employee. A good way to keep track of expiring documents would be to opt for a modern HR software such as Bayzat Benefits. This way, the company can avoid paying penalties and fines for the delay in renewal and overstaying.