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UAE: If you are planning to work in the UAE, it is important to ensure that you have all your papers in place to be employed legally in the country. However, what can you do if your employer fails to apply for your employment visa and work permit? Can an ‘exception’ be made in certain cases? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking this question.

He said: “I arrived in Abu Dhabi to visit family and got stuck during COVID-19 restrictions, with my return flight cancelled by the airline. I applied for a job while on my second three-month visa. My employer told me that they would apply for my employment visa, but I have been working for eight weeks and I have no residence visa or employment contract so far. My current tourist visa is coming up for expiry. I have been working for six days a week, including during all the public holidays during Eid Al Adha for no extra payment. I have been paid in cash for most of my employment. I am paid Dh2,500 a month. My employer told me they have some sort of an ‘exception letter’ to say that they have started the visa application process, so my work is legal, but I am not sure if that is true. I don't know what to do.”

No such thing as an ‘exception letter’

Gulf News raised the query with Mohamed Elmasry, an associate at Al Suwaidi and Company, Advocates and Legal Consultants, who spoke about the problems a person can face working without the right visa or an employment contract in the UAE.

Mohamed Elmasry, an associate at Al Suwaidi and Company, Advocates and Legal Consultants

Mohamed Elmasry, an associate at Al Suwaidi and Company, Advocates and Legal Consultants

“Please note that we have reconfirmed with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) and they have informed us that there is no such thing as an ‘exception letter’, which would allow someone to work legally inside the UAE. Also, they have informed us that it is essential that the employee acquires a labour contract or at least a working visa in order to work legally inside the UAE. Otherwise, a fine will be implemented on the employer and the employee will face legal consequences and deportation,” he said.

As reported by Gulf News earlier, foreigners planning to work in the UAE must know that they cannot work on visit visas or tourist visas. They need legitimate work or residency visas and permits to be able to live and work legally in the UAE. The employer needs to procure the work and residency permits. Working without first obtaining the proper visa status is illegal and can lead to serious legal consequences.

If a foreign worker is found violating the visa requirements, Article (34) of the Immigration Law states: “The court shall in all cases order to deport the violating foreigner.”

Employers, too, are liable to pay a fine of Dh50,000, according to the same article, and also face deportation. Article (34) goes on to state: “A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on any person who has used a foreigner who is not under his sponsorship without complying with the terms and conditions prescribed for the transfer of sponsorship or without obtaining the necessary permit.”