UAE visit visa holders should be allowed to work, suggests top official

As per current rules, working while in the UAE on a visit visa is illegal; hefty fines and other penalties apply on companies that hire visitors

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Waad Barakat

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Published: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 11:12 PM

A top official has highlighted the benefits of allowing visit visa holders to work legally in the UAE. A work permit in this regard and other legal conditions could be established to allow employers to hire visitors legally.

As per current rules, working while in the UAE on a visit visa is illegal. Hefty fines and other penalties apply on companies that hire visitors. Companies have to get an employment visa and work permit issued before an employee starts working for them.


Dr Ali Humaid bin Khatem, advocate-general, head of Naturalisation and Residency Prosecution, said allowing companies to hire visitors legally would help create a mutually beneficial relationship. "Business owners need a start and our country has a lot of tourists looking for jobs. This way, both parties can benefit." He made the suggestion at the Entrepreneurship Makers Forum hosted by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai in Al Khawaneej earlier this week.

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The official, however, cautioned business owners against employing visitors as the current laws don’t allow it.

“[A] visit or tourist entry permit/visa does not give you the right to work in the UAE. A Dh50,000 fine per individual is levied against any enterprise found employing a person on a visit visa,” he said. "Never start off wrong, these regulations and laws were designed to protect business owner and employees.”

Fake Emiratisation

During a panel discussion at the forum, Dr Ali Humaid also expressed concerns about bogus Emiratisation. Emiratisation is considered fake when a UAE national works in a nominal job without real tasks; it’s done solely to meet a company’s Emiratisation targets. It is also deemed fake if a UAE national is rehired in the same company to circumvent Emiratisation targets.

In November last year, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said it referred 113 private companies to the Public Prosecution for violating Emiratisation decisions. These included 98 private companies that appointed citizens in bogus Emiratisation posts.

Challenges faced

The second edition of the Entrepreneurship Makers Forum discussed the most prominent challenges faced by young businesspeople and ways to address them.

Lieutenant-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director-general of the GDRFA, highlighted how content creators “bear a significant responsibility to bolster entrepreneurial innovators, amplify their influence, and empower them”.

Essam Lootah, CEO of Imtiaz Service, discussed the crucial role of legislation and legal frameworks in supporting youth initiatives and strengthening sustainable development.

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