News Details

Fragomen Worldwide - August News Flash

Date Posted: Wed, 14 Aug, 2019

Fragomen Worldwide - August News Flash

Immigration developments in the MENA Region

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) has expanded the labour market testing requirement to companies of all sizes, causing employers in mainland United Arab Emirates to experience delays in obtaining labour approvals for their foreign workers. Additionally, the MOHRE introduced an alternate labour market test that requires employers to schedule an Open Day appointment with the Emiratization Department where the employer interviews Emirati candidates for the open position. If the company cannot find a suitable Emirati candidate, it can extend a job offer to a foreign candidate but must provide a justification for any rejected candidates. The Open Day process is expected to streamline the labour market testing process as employers will no longer have to wait for the MOHRE to respond with the various resumes of Emirati nationals after advertising on the online portal. However, the labour market testing process may be delayed if the employer has chosen to or has been requested to attend a specific Open Day with the Emiratisation Department since appointments for Open Days are often only available a few weeks into the future.
Children of foreign nationals travelling to the United Arab Emirates as tourists between 15 July and 15 September of each year will be exempt from government fees for obtaining their visit visa for tourism. Children below 18 must be accompanied by at least one parent with a pre-arranged short-term or long-term visit visa for tourism. This initiative is meant to benefit foreign nationals who must obtain their entry visa in advance of travel, as those who are visa-exempt or subject to a visa-on-arrival already benefit from cost-free entry. 
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced that male applicants holding residence permits sponsored by their relatives, including spouses and parents, can now obtain a relative-sponsored work permit to work for an employer in the mainland. Previously, only female applicants sponsored by their husband or father qualified for this work authorization category.

Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) approved a new law on the mandatory requirement for private sector employers to upload their entire workforce’s employment contracts to the General Organisation for Social Insurance’s (GOSI) electronic portal. Depending on the total number of workers, companies must upload contracts for a portion of their headcount as per the specific deadlines, but no later than by the end of 2020. Employers must ensure that all employment contracts are in accordance with the MLSD’s regulations and, subsequently, register them with the GOSI portal within the prescribed deadlines.


The Ministry of Manpower has extended the suspension on the issuance of new work visas for foreign workers in certain professions for another six months from 3 July 2019 until 3 January 2020: workers in carpentry workshops; workers in aluminium workshops; workers in metal workshops; and workers in concrete blocks factories.
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 5 August 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.


The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has approved a law introducing a Wages Protection System (WPS) for all private sector companies in Bahrain. According to the new rule, employers will have to pay salaries to their employees through financial institutions licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, which will monitor the obligation and will ensure the timely disbursement of wages. The WPS requirement will be implemented gradually per stages approved by the LMRA, and it is expected to apply to all employers by the end of 2020. Further details of the WPS, including a detailed implementation schedule, are expected to be announced by the LMRA in the coming weeks.


A state of emergency, which has been in place in Egypt since June 2018, was recently extended for an additional three months, through October 23, 2019. As a result, foreign nationals seeking employment and residence in Egypt should expect extensive security screening that may delay their immigration process. The security clearance is the first stage of the application process for work and residence permit in Egypt. 


Foreign nationals seeking employment in Federal Iraq must now complete their compulsory blood test in their country of residence prior to travel. Previously, employment visa applicants could do their blood test in Iraq if they were travelling based on approved visa invitation letter that allowed them to obtain a multi-entry visa upon arrival. Individuals who fail to provide their blood test’s results upon arrival in Iraq will be denied entry. The application process for those who can avail of the multi-entry visa through an Iraqi consular post abroad remains unchanged, and it also requires the applicant to complete the blood test in their home country. The new regulation does not impact foreign nationals who renew their multi-entry visa in country as their blood test will be completed in Iraq, or those travelling for employment to Iraqi Kurdistan.