Government offices across the Middle East and North Africa will close during the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday, which may affect processing times for all immigration applications. Foreign nationals and their employers should expect immigration processing delays in the following weeks, in addition to the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which vary by jurisdiction.
This year, Eid Al Adha is expected to start on July 19 and end on July 22, 2021; however, the exact dates depend on a lunar sighting and are expected to be announced for each country separately.
United Arab Emirates
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) announced the introduction of a work permit for holders of the UAE’s long-term residence permit (Golden Visa) who are currently employed (pursuant to an employment residence permit and employment contract) or are seeking to be employed in the mainland.
Previously, Golden Visa holders in the mainland could not obtain a work permit pursuant to this visa; however, those working in free zones were able to obtain work authorization issued by the relevant free zone authority.
Effective immediately, individuals holding a Golden Visa who are seeking to work for an employer in the mainland, as well as those who are currently employed in the mainland and are due to renew their work permit must obtain the new work permit for Golden Visa holders; this includes foreign nationals with a Golden Visa who are in a dependent status.
It is expected that further details related to the conditions of the new work permit, including information on the application process and government fees will be published by the MOHRE in the coming weeks.
The Ministry of Interior of Qatar has announced that, effective July 12, 2021, travelers seeking entry to Qatar must first obtain an approved travel permit, not less than 12 hours before the scheduled arrival to Qatar. This applies to all travelers, regardless of their nationality, including nationals of Qatar and other GCC countries. Individuals traveling by air, who fail to provide the approved travel permit, will not be allowed to board the flights.
Individuals may obtain the travel permit via the Ehteraz website or Ehteraz mobile phone application. Previously, travelers entering Qatar would be granted an exceptional entry permit post visa issuance or departure from Qatar, however, this will no longer be applicable.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion announced the ‘Investment Residency Program’ which will offer five- and 10-year renewable residence permits to investors in select economic sectors, including tourism, education, health, information and technology and real estate.
Applicants will have to meet specific criteria which are expected to be announced in the coming months as the program is scheduled to launch in September 2021.
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