News Details

Immigration developments in the MENA Region

Sun, March 18, 2018


United Arab Emirates

With immediate effect, all immigration and employment-related applications for the Dubai Healthcare City (DHC) must be processed through a new electronic portal called ‘Masaar’. Previously, businesses were required to use the AXS portal which is mandatory for all companies in the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA).


The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has now taken up the responsibility of processing employment applications for the domestic workers category, including housemaids and drivers, in a phased approach from the Ministry of Interior.

The Tas’heel Service Centres process the applications and require foreign nationals to obtain a work permit approval. The respective General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs issues the employment entry permits electronically, and endorses the employment residence permit. The process currently does not involve preparing a job offer. Previously, the entire process was handled by the Ministry of Interior, and obtaining work permit approval was not required. Additionally, employment contracts must be printed on new templates provided by the MOHRE.


The UAE Cabinet approved a decree granting Indian passports’ holders with a valid US visa or a Green Card eligibility for a visa-on-arrival in the UAE, with an allowable stay of up to 14 days (with a one-time extension for a fee). The decision was made during the latest session of the Cabinet, but the first day of the program is yet to be announced.

It is not clear what category of the US visa must be endorsed in the visitor’s passport and how long it has to be valid for.

Currently 49 nationalities are permitted entry to the UAE without applying for a visa before travelling. The visa is stamped at the entry port and is free of charge.


Employers in Bahrain can no longer apply for temporary work permits for their employees as the service has been discontinued by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA). The new ruling has applied since 2016, however no official announcements have been made as of yet. Information on the process is still available on the LMRA’s website.

Previously, temporary work permits were available for foreign nationals engaged in project-based activities for a maximum duration of six months. Employers could obtain approvals independently without affecting the employment quota.

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