UAE law: How UAE Golden Visa holders can continue to work in freezones

Approved non-sponsored staff must acquire the appropriate identity card or access pass from Jafza for entry and exit

By Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2021, 10:44 AM

Question: A close friend of mine has been offered a job as the head of a firm based in Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza). Thanks to his investments and position, he has got an investor’s Golden Visa. He, however, wishes to continue as the head of the Jafza-based firm. What should the contractual agreement between himself and the Jafza company be like? What’s the legal procedure here? According to Jafza, there only needs to be a simple contract, whereas if the company was based in the mainland, he would need an employment contract. Please advise.

Answer: Prior to obtaining the UAE Golden Visa, we assume that your friend may have got his work permit and residence visa sponsored by his employer registered with the Jafza. Your friend may have availed the UAE Golden Visa as per the conditions laid down in UAE Cabinet Resolution No. 56 of 2018 that allows a foreign national to obtain long-term residency visa. As he is employed by a firm based in Jafza, the provisions of Jebel Ali Free Zone Rules 2020 (Jafza rules and regulations) may be applicable.

An individual is eligible to apply for a 10-year UAE residence visa without a sponsor if his investments in the UAE are at least Dh10 million. The said investments should be free of any loans and should be retained for at least three years.

While applying for the residency visa, the investor may also include his spouse and dependents as well as one executive director and one advisor of his/her business entity.

We assume that your friend has availed the UAE Golden Visa on the aforementioned condition. However, as he intends to continue to be employed with his employer at Jafza, his employer may have to seek the necessary approvals from Jafza. This is because your friend is already self-sponsored to reside in the UAE on the Golden Visa.

It should be noted that clause no. 11.3 of the JAFZA Rules & Regulations mentions the requirements to employ non-sponsored employee by Jafza-registered companies. It reads as follows:

”11.3. Employing non-Sponsored Employees

A Customer may employ a person who is not a Sponsored Employee, either temporarily or permanently, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled. Such employment is permitted for the following persons:

(a) a GCC national;

(b) a person sponsored by a relative (provided that the specific employment contract for such person,

available at Jafza, is signed);

(c) a person employed on a temporary basis for a parent company registered in the United Arab

Emirates; and

(d) a person employed on a temporary basis, where the Employee is sponsored by a company which is part of the same group company as the Customer.

A Customer wishing to employ anyone in the above categories must seek approval of Jafza. Approved non-sponsored staff must acquire the appropriate identity card or access pass from Jafza for entry into and out of the Free Zone. A Customer requiring temporary manpower should approach the Manpower companies approved by the competent Authorities and listed in Jafza.”

The above clause of JAFZA Rules & Regulations does not mention the requirements to employ an individual who is already self-sponsored in the UAE. However, as recommended to your friend by Jafza, he and his employer may sign an employment agreement which is later attested by Jafza.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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