The UAE has suspended new rules for good-conduct certificates until further notice.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said the change was effective from Sunday April 1.
The rule was introduced on February 4 and meant anyone moving to the UAE had to present a police document from their home nation demonstrating they had no criminal history or convictions.
That document had to cover the past five years.
It was suggested that the checks would eventually be extended to anyone moving between jobs in the UAE as well.
On Sunday, the Ministry said on Twitter that "the good conduct certificate is postponed from the first of April until further notice", without elaborating.
Embassies have described being inundated with requests from their citizens, and said they have struggled to understand the ins and outs of the new rules; some countries appear to have faced more problems than others.
“There were a lot of Pakistanis who were applying for the certificate and there was no clarity how to get it done without delay,” said Mohammed Saeed Sarwar, deputy head of the Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi.
He said a number of Pakistani nationals faced complications while acquiring the certificate before coming to work in the UAE.
“For those who were on the verge of moving to the UAE, this decision, which came into effect in February, was blocking their way, but now [that it has been suspended] they can come.”
As the UAE has been one of the main destinations for Pakistani job seekers, suspending the certificate will assist both employees and employers.
“From the start of this process there were some issues with the implementation of the good conduct certificate on both the employee and employers side, since then we have been in touch with the concerned parties in the UAE and Pakistan on how to get this process facilitated.”
“As the embassy of Pakistan, we welcome the announcement of the UAE government to postpone the implementation of the good conduct certificate,” he said.
“In our opinion, it will certainly facilitate the job process for all Pakistani citizens.”
Now that the certificate has been suspended until further notice, he said it is too early to say if job seekers should apply for it anyway to avoid last minuite hassles once the certificate rule comes back into action.
In general, it is recommended for those who are considering job offers in the UAE within a few months’ time to apply on their own, but, he said, "it is not an easy process."
"You need to get through the police authorities, but definitely someone who is planning to move later could start.
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“The job markets are becoming competitive and the better documents you have, the better chances.”
He said he hopes the suspension of the certificate will continue so people will be able to process their work visas without complications.
Mark Ben-Aicha, a principal consultant at Kingston Stanley Recruitment, said there has been “a few teething issues in the actual roll out”, and there wasn’t enough communication about whether the certificate was required for those moving to the UAE only, or also those transferring jobs within the UAE.
“There was a lot of uncertainty on who needed to issue it,” he said.
“I do think the initiative is a good imitative, but I just think the process could be a little bit more prudent to be crystal clear on who needs to have it.”
From his experience, it was easier to acquire the certificate for those who had lived in the same country for the past five years than those who moved between countries. “It will be a bit tricky if they were a few years here and there, then it will be complicated,” he said.
“And there were a lot of embassies around the world asking what is going on … so it needed streamlining.
There continues to be confusion over whether applicants should still acquire their certificates anyway, despite the suspension.
“When we spoke to Tecom they said as far as they are concerned it is still in play … it can be a little bit confusing.
“If we have a candidate who is based abroad and they have made their decision to move to the UAE for work, we do advise them [to start applying] to speed up the process.
“Once clarity is met, then everybody can kind of get on with the process and it is crucial towards what Dubai is working towards – the safety of people within the UAE,” he said.