News Details

Immigration Developments In The MENA Region

Date Posted: Thu, 12 May, 2022

Immigration Developments In The MENA Region

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United Arab Emirates 06 April 2022 – Discontinuation of United Arab Emirates Residence Visa Stamp

The United Arab Emirates is discontinuing the use of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Residence Visa Stamp endorsed in passports, which foreign nationals receive as proof of residence status. Instead, foreign nationals will receive a UAE Emirates Identity card.
Foreign nationals obtaining a UAE Residence Visa will no longer be issued a UAE Residence Visa stamp endorsed in their passport. Instead, foreign nationals will be issued an Emirates Identity card which will serve as their residency document. This change is expected to be implemented for all visa applications processed after April 11, 2022.
The change is aimed the immigration process more efficient.

Further details are expected in the coming week on how this change will affect the residence visa processing in the future.

18 April 2022 – Update on Discontinuation of Residence Visa Stamp Endorsement
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has implemented the process whereby foreign nationals’ passports are no longer endorsed with a residence visa stamp. Instead, the Emirates Identity Card will serve as the only proof of residency status. This News Flash provides an update on the process which was previously reported by Fragomen at the beginning of April.

Whilst all categories of residence permit applicants will eventually be affected by the new requirement, currently only individuals in select jurisdictions can benefit from
this streamlined process. This includes employment residence permit applicants in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, whose original passports are not required for the visa sticker endorsement. Instead, their residence permits are issued electronically.
As the Emirates Identity Card now serves as proof of residency status in the UAE, foreign nationals must hold an original Emirates Identity Card if they travel internationally. It is expected that the electronic version of the residence permit will not be sufficient to enter or depart the UAE.
Extended waiting times for appointments (Please refer to Middle East Immigration News Flash 085/2021 for additional details) for collecting biometric data necessary for the issuance of the Emirates Identity Card, continue to result in delays for obtaining the card and make it difficult for some foreign nationals to travel internationally. The delays are currently up to five weeks. To expedite the process, select free zones in Dubai, including the Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai International Financial Centre, are exploring the option of opening their own centres to issue Emirates Identity Cards.
Further details related to the process of the issuance of Emirates Identity Cards by relevant jurisdictions are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

21 April 2022 – New Entry and Residency Visa Reforms Announced
The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates has announced new entry and residency visa systems which are expected to come into effect in September 2022.
The new system includes reforms such as additional entry visa categories; revised validity of entry visas from 30 to 60 days; and expansion and amendments to the Green Visa and Golden Visa categories.
The amendments to the Green Visa (Please refer to Middle East Immigration News Flash 058/2021) and Golden Visa have been made to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries and aim to attract and retain global talent and skilled workers from all over the world, namely investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talent, scientists and professionals, outstanding students, graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes.

A closer look Golden Visa – the amended conditions applicable to the 10-year long-term residency are:
i) Ability to sponsor children regardless of their age.
ii) Ability to sponsor parents and siblings.
iii) No limit on the number of domestic workers sponsored.
iv) No restriction to the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE to keep the residence permit valid.
v) No impact on the sponsored Golden Visas of dependents in the event of death of the sponsor applicant.
vi) Reduction of salary threshold to AED 30,000 per month for highly skilled professionals with a bachelor’s degree and who have a valid employment contract in the UAE.
vii) Investors in real estate who have purchased one or more off-plan properties worth no less than AED 2 million from approved real estate companies or purchasing a property no less than AED 2 million with a loan from specific local banks are eligible for a Golden Visa.
viii) Entrepreneurs who own or are partners in a start-up that generates revenue no less than AED 1 million annually or have approval for a start-up idea from the competent local authorities or were a founder (one of the founders) of a project(s) that was sold for a minimum of AED 7 million are eligible for a Golden Visa.

Green Visa – the new eligibility criteria for the 5-year long-term residency are: i) Skilled employees with a minimum salary of AED 15,000 per month with a bachelor’s degree and a valid employment contract in the UAE. ii) Freelancers and self-employed individuals if they hold a minimum bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma with proof of annual income of AED 360,000 for the previous two years. iii) Investors in commercial activities are eligible for a Green Visa instead of the two-year visa, if they present proof of investment. Job Exploration Entry Visa – this new visa type does not require a sponsor and has been introduced to attract skilled and talented professionals classified in the first, second or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or new graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from one of the top 500 universities in the world.

Business Entry Visa – this new visa type has been introduced to enable entry for individuals without requiring a sponsor, mainly investors and entrepreneurs who seek to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE.

Entry Visa for Study and Training – this new visa type is intended for training has widened the eligibility to include internship programmes and can be sponsored by government or private entities.

Bahrain 14 April 2022 – Digitalization of the Residence Permit Sticker

The Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) has launched a new e-service for the issuance of the digital residence permit as part of the 24 initiatives of the Bahrain Economic Recovery Plan, available through the Kingdom of Bahrain’s National Portal.
With immediate effect, foreign nationals obtaining a Bahrain residence permit will no longer be issued a printed residence permit sticker onto their passport. Instead, a digital format of the residence permit sticker with a QR code will be available.

The aim of this change is to facilitate the digital transformation and reduce administrative procedures.

Iraq 15 April 2022 – Suspension of Exemptions to the Mandatory Blood Test Requirement The Kurdistan Regional Government has suspended all exemptions to the blood test requirement, which is required for foreign nationals to obtain an Ikamma card.
With immediate effect, all foreign nationals regardless of their age and gender, are subject to a blood test to obtain a Kurdistan Ikamma card.
Previously, males above 65 years of age and females above 50 years of age were exempt from the requirement to submit a blood test to obtain an Ikamma card. This exemption has been suspended and all foreign nationals must now undergo a blood test at the government laboratory in downtown Erbil.
To avoid processing delays of the Ikamma card, employers should prepare and schedule the blood test for all employees.

28 April 2022 – Suspension of Work Fee Payments
The Council of Ministers have announced that work fee payments would be suspended in Iraq. With immediate effect, the Ministry of Interior no longer requires a work fee payment of IQD 1,500,000 for foreign nationals who intend to engage in employment in Iraq.
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