News Details

Fragomen News Flash

Date: Mon, 04 Mar, 2019

Fragomen News Flash

Immigration developments in the MENA Region

United Arab Emirates

Effective immediately, citizens of Maldives and Paraguay are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for stays of up to 90 days. Travellers will receive an entry stamp upon arrival. Previously, nationals of Maldives and Paraguay had to apply for a UAE visa prior to travel.

Effective 17 February 2019, citizens of Russia are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for stays of up to 90 days within any 180-day period, and Emirati citizens are subject to the same policy when travelling to Russia. This comes as a result of an approved agreement between the governments of the UAE and Russia signed in June 2018. The agreement stipulates that work, study and residency are not permissible under this entry policy. Previously, Russian passport holders were eligible for a 30-day visa-on-arrival in the UAE, and Emirati citizens were required to obtain a visa for travel to Russia.

Foreign nationals in Abu Dhabi are experiencing delays with obtaining new residence permits, following the Immigration Authority’s requests for foreign workers to procure an Emirates Identity Card before their residence visa is endorsed. Currently, the Emirates Identity Card (which takes two weeks to obtain) is issued after the residence permit has been endorsed in the foreign national’s passport. It is likely that this change in the process is linked with the government’s plans of eliminating traditional visa stickers that are endorsed in passports in favour of the Emirates Identity Card that will replace residence visas.

Effective immediately, citizens of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan must submit their national identity document issued by the respective authority in their home country, for the processing of new employment residence permit in the United Arab Emirates, according to an announcement by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) announced that select employers are now eligible for reimbursement of a monthly fee they must pay for each foreign employee under their sponsorship. According to the MLSD’s announcement, employers with a Nitaqat rating of low green, medium green, high green and platinum for the past 52 weeks are eligible for the fee refund or will be exempt from the payment, depending whether they have already settled their dues or not. Companies classified as yellow and red will be eligible for the refund only if they improve their Nitaqat rating (to at least low green) within 12 months from the start date of the initiative.


The Ministry of Manpower issued a decision extending suspension of the recruitment of foreign national workers in 87 professions across various industries for another six months, starting from 1 February 2019. The suspension applies to 16 professions in the information and technology sector, seven professions in the engineering sector, four professions in the administration and human resources sector, among others.


Effective June 2019, companies in the private sector that are non-compliant with their prescribed Kuwaitization ratios will be subject to an annual fee of KWD 300 for each work permit issued to a foreign national, according to an announcement by the General Authority for Manpower. This comes as a result of a ministerial resolution issued late 2018, determining the Kuwaitization levels for companies in various business sectors, and the general trend in Kuwait of encouraging the hiring of local employees in the private sector.


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