Major impact: With new rules making it expensive to sponsor maids, many expat working women fear they may have to quit their jobs to take care of kids and the household Image Credit: Photo for illustrative purpose

Abu Dhabi: Confusion prevails over the cost of sponsoring housemaids in Abu Dhabi after many applications were rejected in recent days, XPRESS has learnt.

“Several visa applications were rejected in the last two weeks because we had mentioned the maid’s salary as Dh400. Authorities insist applications must state the minimum prescribed salary of the maid,” said Arif, who runs a typing centre on Al Falah Street in Abu Dhabi.

In some cases, residents said they were asked to pay Dh14,000 instead of the present Dh5,000 in residency visa application fees.

Typing centres and residents say the visa fee has gone up two to three times based on the housemaid’s salary specification against which the visa cost is calculated.

Other typing centres and housemaid recruiting agencies XPRESS spoke to said till a few weeks ago, Dh400 was the standard salary mentioned in all housemaid visa applications irrespective of their original salary.

Hike in fees

“So earlier the application fee for a maid’s residence visa was about Dh5,000. The visa fee was 12 times Dh400, which adds up to Dh4,800 plus Dh200 processing charge, said another typist.

“But it has changed in the last two weeks. We are being asked to put the minimum prescribed salary of Dh1,100 in case of an Indian housemaid. That means the visa fee shoots up to Dh14,000,” he explained.

However XPRESS cannot confirm if maid visa costs are linked to the minimum salaries stipulated by their countries.

Many countries like Philippines, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have set minimum wage benchmarks for housemaids from their countries working abroad. The minimum salary for maids from Philippines is Dh1,400, India 1,100, Sri Lanka Dh825 and Indonesia Dh800.

An Indian family who recently hired a maid from India said they are in deep trouble because of the new salary specification rules. “We brought her to the UAE on April 22 to take care of our newborn. We were told the visa charges will be Dh5,000. But last week when we applied for her residency visa authorities told us it will cost Dh14,000,” said the young woman who did not want to be named. She said they cannot pay so much and neither can they send the maid home.

When this XPRESS journalist, posing as a resident wanting to sponsor a housemaid, checked with Abu Dhabi Immigration, a staff confirmed they were rejecting applications in which the minimum salary is not mentioned.

However, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), Abu Dhabi was not immediately available for a comment.

Families who sponsor a housemaid have two months to apply for their residency visa after they enter the UAE. The visa applications must be submitted along with a copy of her medical test, health insurance and Emirates ID.

Respective embassies have to attest a job contract if expatriates or Emiratis wish to sponsor their citizens as housemaids.

For example, to recruit Indian housemaids, the Indian embassy or consulate has to attest the maid’s job contract that mentions her monthly salary (Dh1,100) and other benefits. Also, the maid’s contract with the Indian embassy requires the sponsors to pay a refundable deposit of Dh9,200 to the embassy.

The sponsor also has to incur the cost of the medical test (Dh350), health insurance (Dh600) and Emirates ID (Dh400).

 

Minimum salary

But when it comes to the visa application fee, typing centres often mention a bare minimum of Dh400 in order to reduce the application fee. Since it is not mandatory to submit the embassy job contract along with the visa application, the original salary of the maid cannot be verified at the GDRFA.

An Indian embassy official told XPRESS that they do not cross-check visa applications and hence have no control over what is mentioned in the application.

Many families said if the increased charges are imposed, it will put them in a tight spot.

“I have had a housemaid for the last five years. If the cost of renewing her visa is going up by two or three times, I have no other option but to send her back to India. That actually means I have to quit my job,” said Sangeetha Mathur, an Indian working woman in Abu Dhabi.

Nihal Rakesh, a businessman, said the new rule will potentially ruin many working women’s careers. “Many women can afford to work because they have maids to take care of their children. Sponsoring a maid is already a complicated and expensive process in the UAE,” said Rakesh.

 

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