Why jobseekers will benefit the most from UAE's new visa rules

One of the biggest overhauls of the entry and residency system in years announced

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The introduction of jobseeker visas will make it more simple for people to enter the country to find work, experts have said.

The new visa was among a string of changes announced on Monday that represent one of the biggest overhauls of the entry and residency system in years.

Additions include a temporary work mission visa, which allows people to fly in for a limited period under sponsorship to complete a task or project. There are also new visas which provide a five-year residency for skilled employees, without requiring a sponsor or employer.

They follow changes to entry visas, which are now valid for 60 days, up from 30 at present, as well as the expansion of the golden visa system.

About 76 per cent of UAE employers plan to expand their workforce in 2022, a February survey by jobs portal Bayt.com and market research company YouGov said.

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There are fewer jobs and also the interview process is quite lengthy, so it’s not just one interview and job done
Louise Vine, Inspire Selection

Experts said the changes represent a move to a more flexible and modern immigration and employment system, which is more akin to economies in the West.

Jobseeker visas, which are available in other countries, including Germany, may be of particular interest to people who cannot obtain visas on arrival in the UAE, they said.

“Of course it’s a good thing to have a jobseeker visa,” said Louise Vine, managing director at Inspire Selection recruitment agency in Dubai.

“It gives people a purpose to come here and it helps the government understand they are on a mission to find a job, rather than being here as a tourist. I guess it’s data for the government.”

The duration, which has not yet been announced, will be important.

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Depending on the level of the role, recruitment can take anything from a few weeks to several months, she said.

“You would need potentially three to six months to find a senior role in certain industries,” said Ms Vine.

“There are fewer jobs and also the interview process is quite lengthy, so it’s not just one interview and job done. It could be four or five interviews and case studies to prepare for, so it takes time.”

For that reason, the jobseeker visa should be at least two months and renewable, she said.

Other changes will help develop the gig economy, which is staffed by workers who are not full-time employees, sourced for specific projects and skills, and are not exclusive to any employer.

“The mission visa is trying to get people who want to come here to fix a problem, like launch a product, fix a satellite or whatever, and then leave the country without having to bear a huge visa cost,” David Mackenzie, group managing director of recruitment agency, Mackenzie Jones, told The National.

Something akin to this exists in the UK, where foreign nationals can fly in and work for temporary periods before leaving again.

But people who obtain mission visas in the UAE must be sponsored by a company. And ideally it should be possible to work temporarily in the Emirates without doing so, said Mr Mackenzie.

“In a pure sense, you should be able to come into the UAE, pay for your short-term visa, which will cost you maybe Dh1,000,” he said.

“And you should be able to work for three months and then leave the country, go to Singapore or Japan, and come back to the UAE and work for another three months.”

It is possible to pay for a freelance visa to set up, but they are often expensive, said Mr Mackenzie.

“At the moment, the only people who can run recruitment companies offering temporary visas are Emiratis,” he said.

“What they need to do is open it up to all the big temp companies globally, who will then bring their expertise and we will have a situation where we start employing people on three and four-month contracts.

“It will happen, but it needs to happen over time.”

Updated: April 19, 2022, 11:41 AM
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