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Dubai: Did you just get selected for a job role in the UAE? If so, you might be wondering what to expect in terms of the employment procedures that need to be completed so that you can start working in the UAE.

Potential candidates who are about to be hired for a job in the UAE private sector need to know of the following steps that are part of the employment process:

1. Receiving a job offer

The first step is receiving a job offer letter from a UAE-based company.

The offer letter contains important details of the job and an annex that summarises the most important aspects of the UAE Labour Law. Both parties – the employer and employee – must sign these documents. If you have received an offer letter from a UAE-based company, here is how you can verify that it is authentic.

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As per labour reform regulations effective 2016, an offer letter made to a foreign worker becomes legally binding after it is signed by both parties.

So, once it is signed, the employer is not allowed to alter or replace any provisions of the offer letter unless such changes have the consent of both the employer and the employee, are within the scope of law and do not compromise the rights of the employee.

The employer must ensure that the employee has read the offer letter and understood it. If it is proved that a worker did not go through the annexes before signing the labour contract, the employer will be fined Dh20,000 for submitting incorrect data to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

If the employee is in the UAE when the offer letter is signed, the company can start the process of applying for the work permit by seeking MOHRE’s preliminary approval for employment.

The Ministry has also highlighted in the past that employers must disclose the terms of the offer letter to MOHRE. A copy of the offer letter is stored in the MOHRE's database and employees are issued work permits based on these offer letters.

2. Signing the contract

The next step to complete is the signing of the employment contract.

The employment contract should be based on the offer letter signed by both parties and must be submitted to MOHRE within 14 days of the employee either

1. Arriving in the UAE based on the employment entry permit.

2. Or from the date of status change. A person’s visa status changes when his or her previous visa is either cancelled or transferred to a new visa. This is usually done through a special process called ‘change status’, which does not require the individual to exit the country in order to switch to a new visa.

Language of employment contract

In January 2016, MOHRE approved a resolution allowing a third language to be added on the job offer, labour contract and annexure, apart from Arabic and English. The third language can be chosen by an employee, who may wish to read the contract details in his or her own native language. This can be either one of the following languages:

1. Bengali
2. Chinese
3. Dari
4. Hindi
5. Malayalam
6. Nepalese
7. Sinhalese
8. Tamil
9. Urdu

This applies to workers coming from outside and those residing in the UAE that are seeking a new job, or moving from one company to another.

3. Getting a work permit

The final step in the employment process is getting the work permit – which is also commonly referred to as the labour card. This employment process is closely linked with the immigration procedure of getting a work visa.

So, in this step you would be dealing with two authorities – MOHRE, which manages employment regulations in the private sector, and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate where a person is employed. The GDRFA of an Emirate manages all immigration and visa related processes within the Emirate.

The process starts with a work permit being issued by MOHRE. If you were hired from outside the country, you can enter the UAE based on this work permit. If you were hired from within the UAE, the company can start applying for your visa once the work permit is issued.

Next, the sponsoring company has to complete the formalities of medical testing, obtaining UAE Resident Identity (Emirates ID) Card, Labour Card and stamping the work residency permit on his passport within 60 days.

However, this only applies to jobs where the company is going to be the sponsor of your visa. If you are taking advantage of some of the new visa options that have been announced in the UAE – like the Golden Visa or Green Visa – you would be on ‘self-sponsorship’ and would need to cover the costs of the visa application procedures from your pocket.

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