A typing centre at Mazaya Centre in Dubai accepts ID card applications. Children not yet registered for an Emirates ID card must be signed up for the national identity scheme by the end of September. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Identity Authority’s move to make sponsors bear the costs of national ID cards of their expatriate employees follows the initiative of certain big companies, a top official told Gulf News on Tuesday.

Certain big players like Al Jaber Group of Companies based in Abu Dhabi, that employs about 50,000 people, has already been bearing the cost of ID cards of their expatriate employees, said Dr Ali Al Khoury, Director General of Emirates Identity Authority (Emirates ID).

“This is professionalism and we expect other employers to follow,” he said.

He said he expects all employers will follow the announcement in this regard.

As Gulf News exclusively reported on Monday, millions of expatriate employees in the country can save the cost of over Dh200 for ID card renewal every two years, thanks to this move.

“Now national ID cards are issued as part of the residence visa processing, whose costs have to be borne by the sponsors as per the existing laws,” Al Khoury said on Sunday.

After linking the ID card and residence visa processing across the country, ID cards are an integral part of the residence visa, he pointed out.

Since applying for and renewing a residence visa for an expatriate employee is the responsibility of the sponsor, the two cannot be separated, Al Khoury explained.

He mentioned considering a legal framework in consultation with other government authorities to implement this, if the situation requires.

Expatriates welcomed the move.

Al Mouez Ahmad Abbas, 39, a Sudanese administrator in Abu Dhabi , said it would mainly help newcomers to the country. “People of all professions will not have enough money to pay for the ID card when they reach here the first time.”

Abdullah Padiyath, an Indian,who works as a senior tender coordinator in Dubai, said the move will specially help low-income labourers. “I really appreciate the government for this decision.”

Akthar Niaz, a Pakistani executive at a recruitment company, said it would help a large number of workers who are compelled to discontinue their job. “Many workers leave the country or change jobs due to personal and work-related issues just after reaching here,” he said.

Wayne Steencamp, a South African project manager in Abu Dhabi, said it is a move in the right direction. “My company was already paying the ID card fee of the staff. This will help many others who do not have that privilege.”

He said all the costs of bringing an expatriate employee to the UAE and arranging all mandatory documents should be the responsibility of the sponsor. “So this move is logical,” Steencamp said.