Immigration Developments in the MENA Region

Date Posted:Thu, 5th Mar 2020

Immigration Developments in the MENA Region

The latest news from Fragomen, in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.


 Immigration Developments in the MENA Region


Middle East

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is being monitored closely by public health agencies around the world, and the governments in many jurisdictions including the Middle East have taken immigration–related measures in order to contain the spread of the virus. Please visit this website for a summary of current entry restrictions by jurisdiction and for additional insights on this topic.

United Arab Emirates

Effective immediately, applicants renewing their work permit in the mainland may be required to also amend their job title if the designation they hold is not available on the new list of occupations published by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). The list of occupations that is now used by the MOHRE comprises of 1,250 titles in five levels of professional skills that determine whether a degree certificate must be provided by a work permit applicant, or not. As opposed to the previous list, the new one has not been published on the MOHRE’s website.


Effective immediately, applicants renewing their work permit or amending their salary information or job title in the mainland must submit an attested education certificate if required by their job title. Previously, proof of education had to be submitted only for a new work permit application and was not required at the renewal stage or for other labour-related transactions.

Saudi Arabia

Foreign nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia for business must now obtain a visa preapproval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) before they submit a Business Visit Visa application. Invitation letters for Commercial and Work Visit Visas that were used before, are no longer available. Pre-approval for a Business Visit Visa can be obtained electronically through the MOFA website. Previously, pre-approval was required only for select categories of applicants, including businesswomen and individuals sponsored by a government agency in Saudi Arabia.


Foreign nationals applying for a visa through Saudi consular post in the United Kingdom are now required to disclose their travel history if they recently visited one of the countries affected by an outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus, in particular China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR or Taiwan. It is not clear what other countries are considered by the consular authorities to be affected by the outbreak of the virus, and what is the impact of this information on the visa process.


The Ministry of Interior has issued a resolution introducing a new temporary work visa in Qatar. While the new visa has not been implemented in practice yet, it will apply to foreign nationals in select professions seeking short-term work for a period not exceeding six months. The exact mechanisms for granting the new visa, including detailed eligibility conditions, whether the employee will need to be paid locally, and costs, are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.


The Ministry of Manpower announced that, effective immediately, employment of Sales Representatives and Procurement Representatives has been restricted to Omani nationals. Previously, the ban on employment of foreign nationals in these positions was temporary and the latest extension expired in November 2019. Employers in the private sector seeking to fill the restricted positions must find their candidates among Omani nationals. Affected foreign nationals with valid work visas must either amend their job titles or find alternative job opportunities as their visas will not be renewed upon expiry.


The Philippine government has partially lifted a ban imposed on its citizens from working in Kuwait. Employers in Kuwait can again hire Filipino nationals in all positions except domestic workers or household service workers for whom the ban remains in effect. In January, a deployment ban was imposed on all Filipino domestic workers, after a series of reports of abuse of Filipino workers in 2019. It was later expanded to cover all categories of Filipino workers.


The Council of Ministers of Egypt issued a decision whereby foreign nationals can obtain Egyptian citizenship provided that they meet certain conditions as outlined in the law, including:

  • Purchasing a property in Egypt; or
  • Investing in a new or existing business; or
  • Depositing between USD 250,000 to USD 1 million as a deposit to the Central Bank of Egypt.

Applicants must be able to meet all prescribed eligibility conditions for a minimum of five years (with some exceptions) in order to maintain his / her citizenship. Further information regarding all applicable procedures, documentary requirements and additional conditions are expected to be published within the coming months.

About Fragomen


Fragomen is the world’s leading single-focus provider of immigration services and support. Our firm is comprised of law practices and immigration consultancies that work together to support our clients across all regions globally. At Fragomen, we leverage our collective immigration experience to offer clients targeted and trusted solutions that help them achieve their local, regional and worldwide business goals.


Fragomen’s team of dedicated immigration professionals has extensive experience in working with multinational businesses, local employers, start-ups and individual investors. We have a deep understanding of the region and maintain strong professional relationships with immigration authorities. Our MENA immigration team is supported on a global basis by over 3,800 immigration professionals in more than 50 offices worldwide. Together, we provide comprehensive immigration support in over 170 countries.


All we do is immigration, a sole focus that makes a considerable difference. Unlike many other providers, all of our thinking, passion and resources are dedicated to improving the immigration experiences of our clients and their employees. We have the track record, region specific experience and know-how to provide you with a streamlined and compliant immigration solution.


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