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New UAE GCC Employer Rules and New UAE Immigration Update

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This is the second in our series of GCC updates focusing on new developments in UAE immigration, personal data and Emiratisation rules.

new visa type

  1. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many UAE businesses had employees return home or simply relocate overseas, continuing to work remotely during the lockdown. Given the ease with which many employees in the UAE are able to work remotely, we are seeing an increasing number of people looking to live and work in one country for the benefit of companies in another. Many employers in the UAE have agreed or are considering overseas remote work arrangements, mainly to hire or retain the talents they need, and now the immigration authorities in the UAE have recognized this and offered a number of new visas, including:

green visa – This visa allows the holder to sponsor themselves for five years, thereby eliminating the need for UAE nationals or employers to sponsor their visa. Under the terms of this visa, individuals can also sponsor family members, including spouses, children and first-degree relatives. The right of residence granted to family members will be the same as that of the original visa holder. Individuals on this visa now have a longer grace period of six months to remain in the UAE after their residence permit has been canceled or expired.

Freelance visa – This is the new Commonwealth visa for the self-employed that was announced alongside the Green Visa. This is the first federal program of its kind that enables self-employed individuals to sponsor themselves. Self-employed individuals working in specialized fields such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and digital currency in the UAE and overseas will be eligible to apply.

temporary work visa – Those with temporary work assignments, such as project-based work or trial testing, can apply for this visa. Applicants will need to submit a temporary employment contract or a letter from their employer along with a health certificate.

Work Exploration Entry Visa – This visa does not require a sponsor or host. Awarded to those listed by the MoHRE as skill level 1, 2 or 3, or to graduates of one of the world’s best 500 universities, based on classifications approved by the Ministry of Education. Holders must have graduated within the past 2 years. The minimum level of education is a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Individuals must also meet required financial guarantees.

new emirates rules

  • The UAE has introduced a new federal regulation that imposes hefty fines on private sector onshore companies that fail to hire a sufficient number of UAE nationals. The aim of the reform is to increase the number of Emiratis working in the private sector. The UAE government previously introduced an Emiratisation policy for the private sector (within the UAE only), which obligates employers to recruit UAE nationals up to a certain quota in most business sectors and certain job categories. In addition, as part of the Emiratisation policy, the UAE government offers incentives to onshore employers who strictly adhere to its applicable Emiratisation requirements, allowing them to streamline immigration procedures, reduce government fees (including waiving deposit bank guarantees), and as other incentives measure. Effective January 1, employers must now employ one skilled UAE national if their workforce consists of 49-50 foreign employees, and two skilled UAE nationals if the entity employs 51-100 foreign employees UAE nationals. In addition, Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2022 requires onshore companies to increase the number of UAE employees by 2% annually, with a target of 10% by 2026.

  • The main potential risk for employers is that if they do not meet the Emiratization threshold, they will be required to pay a monthly penalty of Dh6,000 for each UAE national they fail to hire by the deadline. Employers also cannot issue or renew work permits until the minimum threshold is met.

New UAE Data Protection Law

  • The UAE has enacted Federal Decree No. 45 of 2021 (UAE Data Protection Law) to regulate the collection and processing of personal data in the country. While the law was enacted on January 2 last year, it has yet to be fully implemented and regulations further clarifying various aspects, including the scope and extent of sanctions, will be issued later in 2023. Once these regulations are implemented, controllers and processors will then have six months to adjust their status and comply with UAE data protection law.

In our experience, HR is generally the area of ​​the business that tends to handle the most sensitive data, namely employee data. This may include health information, equal opportunity data, financial information and bank account details. With the introduction and implementation of UAE data protection laws, HR teams play a key role in data protection compliance and it is imperative that they are fully aware of the rights employees have when assessing the data they retain. Employers will need to understand the type of personal data held about their employees, how and why it is collected and stored, how long it should ideally be retained, any third parties to which the data is transferred, and the measures in place to protect it. Safeguard it. Therefore, consideration needs to be given to what changes may be required to the employment documents. Consent and grounds for processing employee data are the primary issues to consider.

© Copyright 2023 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 76

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