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New GCC employer regulations, Part 2 (UAE) Soundlines Group

This is the second in the series of updates on the GCC, and it focuses on recent changes to UAE immigration, personal data, and Emiratisation regulations.

New Visa Classes

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many UAE-based companies had workers who went to their home countries or relocated abroad to keep working remotely during closure periods. Due to the convenience with which many UAE employees could operate remotely, we have received a growing number of inquiries from individuals wishing to live and work in a single nation for the benefit of another company. Numerous employers in the UAE have consented to or are contemplating foreign remote working arrangements, mainly as a means of attracting or retaining talent, and the UAE immigration authorities have acknowledged this with the introduction of several new visas, such as:

Green visa

This visa allows the holder to self-sponsor for five years, removing the requirement for a citizen of the United Arab Emirates or an employer to sponsor their visa. Individuals can additionally sponsor family members, such as spouses, children, and first-degree relatives, under the terms of this visa. The same residency status will be granted to family members as the visa holder. Additionally, there is now a six-month grace period for visa holders to remain in the UAE after their residence permit has been revoked or expired.

Freelancer visa

This was announced alongside the green visa as an additional federal visa for self-employed employees. It is the first federal program of its kind that allows self-employed individuals to sponsor themselves. Self-employed professionals in the UAE and abroad with expertise in specialized disciplines like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and digital currencies may apply.

Transient work visa

 Applicants for this visa must have a transient work assignment, such as project-based work or supervision testing. In addition to fitness documentation, applicants must provide a temporary work contract or a letter from their place of employment.

Job investigation entry visa

This visa doesn’t need a sponsor or a host. It is granted to those classified by the MoHRE as having the first, second, or third highest level of skill or to those who have graduated from one of the top 500 universities in the globe, as determined by a classification authorized by the Ministry of Education. The recipient has to have graduated within the previous two years. The minimum level of education required is a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Additionally, the individual must provide a specified financial guarantee.

New regulations for EmiratisationThe United Arab Emirates has implemented a new federal rule that imposes significant penalties on private onshore companies that fail to employ an adequate amount of UAE nationals. This reform aims to increase the proportion of Emiratis employed in the private sector. 

The UAE government has previously enacted an Emiratisation strategy for private companies (only onshore UAE), mandating that employers hire UAE nationals up to quotas for the majority of business fields and certain job categories. 

Furthermore, as a component of the Emiratisation policy, the UAE government offered incentives for onshore employers who strictly adhere to their applicable Emiratisation requirements, including expedited immigration processing, lower government fees (including exemptions from bank guarantee deposits), as well as additional incentives. 

Employers must now employ one experienced UAE national if their staff consists of 49 to 50 expatriates and two experienced UAE nationals if their workforce consists of 51 to 100 expatriates as of January 1. Also, Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2022 mandates that onshore companies increase the number of Emiratis employed by 2% annually, to reach 10% by 2026.The main concern for businesses is that they could face a monthly punishment of AED 6,000 for each UAE national they failed to hire before the cutoff date if they don’t fulfil the Emiratisation standards. Until the minimum threshold is reached, the employer will be not able to provide or renew work permits.

Amended UAE Data Protection Legislation

UAE Federal Decree-Law No. 45 of 2021 (UAE Data Protection Law) regulates the gathering and handling of personal data within the country. Even though the law was enacted on January 2, 2018, it has yet to be fully implemented, and additional regulations clarifying different elements (which include the scope and severity of sanctions) are scheduled to be published later in 2023. Controllers and processors are given six months to modify their position and comply with the UAE Data Protection Law following the implementation of these regulations.

HR is frequently the department that processes most sensitive data, namely employee information. This may involve health information, data on equal opportunity, financial data, and bank account information. With the enactment and implementation of the UAE Data Protection Law, HR departments are crucial in ensuring data protection compliance. Therefore, they must ensure that they are completely aware of the rights of their employees when evaluating the data being retained. Employers will need to comprehend the categories of employee personal data held, the reasons for how it is gathered and preserved, how long it should ideally be kept, any third parties to whom it is transferred, and the safeguards in place to secure it. Consideration must therefore be given to what modifications to job documentation may be required. Permission and justification for the processing of employee data are among the most important considerations.



In conclusion, these recent changes in the UAE’s regulations, ranging from new visa categories to enhanced data protection laws, have brought both opportunities and challenges for employers and individuals alike. Staying updated with these evolving regulations and ensuring compliance is vital for companies operating in the UAE. 

With such dynamic changes in the legal landscape, organizations may find it beneficial to partner with experts who specialize in navigating the intricacies of UAE employment regulations and immigration processes. Soundlines Group, a reputable global employment solutions provider, is an ideal partner to assist businesses in efficiently managing their global employment needs while ensuring adherence to the latest regulations. 

With their decades of experience and presence in over 23 countries, Soundlines Group offers valuable insights and support to simplify the complex processes associated with international talent resourcing and compliance, allowing businesses to focus on their core operations and growth strategies.

Click here to schedule a callback from one of our international recruitment experts.



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