All people except UAE citizens and GCC nationals need permission from the UAE government (the Ministry of Immigration or equivalent) to live or visit UAE. Each emirate has their own immigration department with their own rules which are mostly consistent. All non-Emirati workers need work permits (or labour cards) from the UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) to work in the UAE.
Expats and visitors may be subjected to an entry ban or a work ban depending on who they are and what they have done while in UAE. There are two types of bans: Immigration ban and Employment/labour ban.
An immigration ban connotes you cannot enter the UAE either as a visitor or for residency. Israeli citizens for example, are banned (except for Israeli tennis players) due to their nationality. Immigration ban is also imposed if you are convicted of a criminal offence while in the UAE. Common offences that lead to such a ban are bad debts, bounced cheques, drinking and driving, drunk in public or inappropriate relationships. More severe offences such as theft, violence, rape and murder would also certainly result in an immigration ban.
An immigration ban can also be effected if one breaks the rules related to immigration such as entering the country illegally, working without a work permit, absconding (leaving your job without informing your sponsor/employer) or overstaying.
It is to be noted that if you have an immigration ban in UAE, you are not eligible to enter any other GCC countries. The immigration ban is imposed either lifelong, or for a period of one year, and there is no case or provisions to lift the ban.
An employment ban, labour ban or a work permit ban are all different terms for the same, which indicates that you are not allowed to work in the UAE for a certain period of time.
This is an automatic ban which comes along with a work permit or labour card from the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The ban is not stamped on the passport, but the MOL will have its record and will reject any consequent applications in your name. But even with a six month labour ban, you can enter the UAE on a visitor or tourist visa. An expat worker who has a permanent ban from working in the country is eligible only for a visit visa, according to MOL.
From January 1, 2011, the minimum period of employment for which a labour ban is not imposed has been reduced to two years from three years previously. This minimum period applies to employees on unlimited contracts, workers on a limited contract who complete their contracts, or terminate contracts before expiry with the agreement of their employer.
In certain cases there is a possibility of lifting the labour ban by paying an approximate amount of 5000-6000 Dhs. One can also pay the ban lifting fee of AED 500 per month, for the remaining months in the contract, if he has left before completing the same. But the decision regarding the lifting of labour ban resides solely with the MOL.
The labour ban in UAE is effected under the following conditions:
- Expatriate workers leaving government jobs
- Expatriate workers who break the terms of their labour contract or the labour law
- Expatriates who lose a case with the UAE labour department against their employer
- Expatriate workers who leave their job within one year of commencement
There will not be any ban, if an
- Employee moves to a government company
- Oil company employees
- Employees moving to a free zone company
- Employees who completed the contract period. The employee must notify the employer and request not to renew the contract in such a case.
- Dependent pass holders
The MOL also facilitates employers to start processing work permits for banned employees before the ban period is over, to enable quicker issuing of labour cards to ensure continuity of work relations. But it is to be noted that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will not issue new work permits to workers whose visas have been cancelled, unless six months have elapsed after cancellation. The six-month waiting period does not apply to government departments or free zones.
Non Objection Certificate
Any employee who is not completed one year of service with the employer in the UAE can change job/transfer visa to a new employer after obtaining NOC (Non objection certificate). NOC is a must for any job change or else one can be banned for six months, and the new employer can apply for another employment visa only after the ban period is over.
NOC is not required to join in any free zone, government and semi-government companies. One will be relieved from the company after serving the notice period.
Ministry of Labour services in UAE
The details for contacting MOL in UAE for immigration related enquiries are as given below. For any labour related issues, including contracts, work conditions, labour cards and work permits,
Phone: 800-665 toll-free in the UAE
Netwasal launched by the Ministry of Labour and the Department of Naturalization and Residency in Dubai, is a well-equipped website which provides a lot of services online to the employer and employee in UAE.
Netwasal website: http://www.mol.gov.ae/ownersservices/login.aspx?lang=eng