The UAE Residence Visa, also known as an ‘employment visa’, is a legal requirement for every expatriate who resides and works in the United Arab Emirates.
Visa outsourcing services, also known as Employer of Record (EoR) or Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) services, are a very attractive option for foreign companies that have not yet established a presence in the UAE but would like to test the market’s appetite for their products or services by placing a small number of individuals on the ground to represent their business interests.
Even companies with a local presence are limited as to the number of visas they can issue by the size of the office space that they have available. Such companies may find it more cost effective to sponsor a marginal employee through an EoR rather than leasing a larger office.
Indeed, the first step of any new visa application is the quota approval, which involves a visit to the sponsoring company’s registered office address by a representative of the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE) to determine if the company has sufficient office space to sponsor a new visa. If it does not, then a good EoR can step in and assist.
There are several benefits associated with outsourcing employment to a PEO, including:
- No visa quota restrictions
- No visa designation restrictions
- Minimum office space requirements
- Lower costs for visa processing
- Quicker processing time
- Additional administrative and HR support e.g. payroll
- Full compliance with labour and immigration laws
- Mandatory medical insurance coverage at competitive rates
- No jurisdictional restrictions within the UAE, i.e. client employees can work in most of free zones (the DIFC and ADGM are notable exclusions) and on the mainland.
How does it work in practice?
After a client has approached the service provider (and accepted all applicable terms and conditions), both parties will sign a letter of engagement and proceed with visa applications for the client’s employees. The following information must be provided to the EoR:
- Employee information required by the authority
- Contract details (salary structure, notice / probation period, annual leave entitlement, working days / hours, etc.)
- Certificate of education duly attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
- Employee status (currently based inside / outside the UAE)
When the employee has signed the offer letter issued by the MOHRE, the EoR will apply for an entry permit that will enable them to enter the UAE. If the employee is already in the UAE, a simple status change is required.
The individual is then required to apply for an Emirates ID and undergo a medical test at an approved medical centre. As soon as a medical certificate confirming that the employee is ‘fit to work’ has been issued, the EoR can proceed with submitting the relevant documentation to the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs Authority (GDRFA).
At this stage the EoR should also provide proof of medical insurance, which is mandatory in Dubai. There are several different plans for the client to choose from, which are fully compliant and approved by the Dubai Health Authority. When this is secured, the visa can be stamped in the employee’s passport.
The entire process of securing an employment visa for an individual employee typically takes around three weeks. The visa is valid for a maximum of two years, after which it can be renewed with the same EoR acting as sponsor. An employee holding an employment visa can then sponsor his / her family members and bring them into the country.
How can Sovereign help?
Sovereign has partnered with a licensed HR management and outsourcing agency in Dubai to offer this service to our clients. Our partner is approved by MOHRE and has operated in the UAE for more than 20 years, acting as EoR for a wide range of client companies and employees. If you wish to know more about this service, please contact us.