The new two-year residency visa rule only applies to those in the private sector. People working for charitable bodies and in the public sector will not be affected. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The recently introduced two-year residence visa rule only affects private sector workers, a senior official from the Ministry of Interior clarified.

The term of the labour card, which is issued to private sector employees, has recently been reduced from three to two years — which also means the term of the residence visa for those who work in the private sector has been reduced.

Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Acting Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Borders, told Gulf News that only those who work for private companies and who need to be issued with a labour card from the Ministry of Labour will have a two-year visa.

Same period

"All other expatriates who work in the country, including those who work for government, semi-government companies, NGOs such as charitable organisations, investors, and all those who have their labour permits and residency issued only from the residency department have a three-year visa," said Major General Al Menhali.

He said family members, including spouses and children, will have the same visa period as their sponsor.

"If the sponsor's visa is for two years the family members' visa including wife/husband and children will have their visa for two years and if the sponsor's visa is for three years they will have their visa for three years," said Major General Al Menhali. He explained the residency department has not reduced the length of the visa and it is still three years for everyone. "When we get an application for a residence visa we look at the validity of the labour card issued by the Ministry of Labour; if it is for two years then we will issue a two-year residence visa," he explained.

He said the ministry is studying significant amendments to the current law which deals with residency and foreigners' affairs.

Added financial burden

Owners of businesses in the private sector are complaining over the rule — saying it places an extra financial burden on them.

"Reducing the visa period and labour card validity has added a burden on our companies," said a human resources manager at a company in Dubai.

The manager, who did not wish to be identified, said they had to renew the visas of hundreds of employees every two years.

Private sector workers have also complained over the rule as they will now need to renew visas for sponsored family members every two years.

"They are adding financial problems on us and on our families by reducing the validity of their residency visa," said Rajish who works for a private company in Dubai.

"The authority should revise its decision which has affected our financial life," said a worker. "Our company charges us the cost of our visas."