Note: this article is not a guide to the procedures, but simply an explanation of what is required.
If you’re reading this then the chances are you’re considering moving here to the UAE. Good idea, there are many positive reasons for moving to this sunny slice of the Arabian Peninsula, but do you have any idea what you need?
The first order of business is to nail down a job, and you can see what’s on offer right now by visiting GN Careers. If you are planning on moving out to the UAE then arranging a job first is well advised. You can’t just turn up on a plane and start knocking on doors as sometimes the process can take a while, and where are you going to stay? Not to mention the fact that you’ll outstay your 30 day visit visa.
Once you have had your interview or received your job offer letter, it is the responsibility of your new employer to get all your documentation in order. Before that, however, you must get one of your academic qualifications attested by your respective Home Office or embassy. It is best done before you fly to speed the process up, although can be done from the UAE if required.
You will also need at least 15 passport-sized photos and ensure that your passport doesn’t expire for at least six months.
In order to be a legal resident in the UAE then your employer will, and must, arrange the following (all costs to be covered by the employer with no exceptions):
1. Residency visa
The residency visa is the pink sticker that gets put in your passport. It is possibly the most important of all documents. It includes a passport size picture, your residency number, your designation, and an expiry date.
As far as designation is concerned, don’t worry too much about what gets printed. The Ministry of Labour only have a select few broad job designations, so it’s not uncommon to find yourself called something different to your actual job title.
Always have a few scanned copies of your visa and passport kept somewhere safe just in case. You must keep your passport safe, it is illegal for your employer to hold your passort.
2. Labour Contract (electronic as of July 2014)
The labour contract should contain information matching your job description. It is a legally binding document that will be used as a matter of fact should there ever be a legal discrepancy between employer and employee.
There are two types: Limited and Unlimited. There are differences, as you would expect, and it’s quite technical, so click here to read our guide to the different labour contracts.
Knowing which you have is very important as there are major differences in your work rights. The contract must contain your basic salary, prescribed working hours, and employment period. The contract appears in both Arabic and Englis and as of July 2014 are electronic.
3. Medical insurance
It is a legal requirement for your employer to provide you with medical insurance. You’ll be issued with a card which has to be presented to the hospital whenever you need medical attention.
Usually you will have to pay an advance for each medical visit, normally between Dh30-Dh100. Ask your employer if this advance will be covered or whether you’ll pay out of your own pocket.
When you first arrive in the UAE, you will be taken to a medical centre for a blood test and X-ray to make sure you’re not carrying any contagious diseases. Your medical insurance is renewed each year.
4. Emirates ID card
The Emirates ID card is again arranged by your employer. Its validity runs parallel to your visa. It features a passport photo, your residency number, date of birth, and a magnetic chip.
The magnetic chip doesn’t serve too much of a purpose right now, although it can be used to withdraw money from some banks. You should carry your Emirates ID card with you wherever you go as it is a legal requirement.
5. Labour Card (electronic as of July 2014 - private sector only)
There has been much talk about the labour card being abolished, and it is arguably a bit pointless now the Emirates ID is in full circulation. Usually only issued to employees in the private sector, the card is issued automatically when the labour contract is printed. In July 2014, the traditional plastic card was replaced with an electronic version.