What the new work permit rules mean for your family

The UAE government has made it easier for husbands, fathers and sons to secure employment without full company sponsorship

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, MAY 15, 2016. Ronna Lansang, left, Accounting Manager, Finance & Controlling, Robert Bosch Middle East, with her colleague, Ebaa Hani El-Agha, Accountant, at their office in DAFZA (Dubai Airport Freezone).
Robert Bosch Middle East offers working mothers at their company flexible hours and packages to help them work and parent in the UAE.

Photo: Reem Mohammed/ The National (Reporter: Suzanne Locke / Section: bz-LIFE) Job ID 51905 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20160515_BOSCH_08.JPG
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New rules issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation this week allow husbands, fathers and sons sponsored by their family to apply for work permits for the first time. Previously, only women were eligible for work permits under family sponsorship.

The extension is among several changes rolled out in recent months to make it easier for family members to come to the UAE, secure employment and stay longer.

The National tells what it all means and how your family can make the most of the new policy.

What are the new work permit rules?

The new work permit rules allow companies to hire men sponsored by their family. A work permit, also known as a labour card, is cheaper than providing a full employment visa which by law must come with medical insurance. Previously, only women – typically sponsored by their husbands or parents – were eligible for work permits.

Who can benefit?

Any male already sponsored by their family – meaning they are already legal residents – is eligible. For example, husbands sponsored by their wives, sons sponsored by either of their parents or older fathers sponsored by an adult son or daughter would all be able to apply for a work permit through an employer.

What are the requirements to sponsor a family member?

Since April, foreign workers – both men and women – are now able to sponsor family members based solely on their income. The worker needs to earn a minimum of Dh4,000 a month, or Dh3,000 plus accommodation, whereas previously they required a managerial title.

Single mothers can sponsor their child, but must earn a minimum salary of Dh10,000.

The salary requirements are higher for a worker to sponsor parents to ensure it is enough to support them: Dh20,000 or Dh19,000, plus two-bedroom accommodation expenses covered. The worker must sponsor both parents together and must prove he/she is the sole financial provider for both parents.

Last month, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced a change in policy in residency visas for 18-year-old dependents. Parents can now apply for residency visas for up to two consecutive years. Previously, 18-year-old sons had to get their own employment or study visa to remain in the country. Unmarried daughters could be sponsored by their resident father indefinitely, but now they can be sponsored by their mother as well.

What is needed to apply for a work permit?

Companies can apply for a work permit for new employees at all centres of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Applicants require a valid residency visa, passport, health certificate, copies of the employment contract, the sponsoring company’s valid trade licence, education certificates and other evidence of professional qualifications.

How much does a work permit cost?

The new fee for a two-year work permit for a skilled or limited skilled worker is Dh300 for all categories of companies. Previously, a work permit cost between Dh300 and Dh5,000, depending on the position and the type of company. By law, these expenses must be covered by the employer.

Earlier this month, the MoHRE slashed charges for transactions at service centres by up to 94 per cent. Minister Nasser Al Hameli said the reduction in fees were part of government efforts to boost competitiveness by decreasing labour recruitment and operational costs.