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UAE to open visa centers offshore

Executive summary 

The UAE Government has announced plans to open visa centers in foreign countries. These centers will enable individuals with prospective employment in the UAE to sign their job offers, obtain work authorization, conduct medical and biometric tests and obtain their Employment Entry Permits, all in their home country.

This initiative seeks to make the hiring process more transparent and streamlined for UAE based organizations.

Detailed discussions

The offshore visa centers plan, a joint collaboration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, is to be rolled out in three phases over the course of 2016-2017.

  • Phase one – during 2016 – the opening of four visa centers in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
  • Phase two – during 2016 – the opening of ten visa centers; four in India, and one each in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Senegal and Nigeria.
  • Phase three – during 2017 – the opening of eight visa centers; three centers in India, three in Pakistan and an additional center in Egypt and Nigeria respectively.

This plan aims to offer an improved service to employers and enhance the ability of the UAE’s private sector to recruit employees who fully understand their job offer in terms of rights, obligations and employment conditions. The Ministries want to ensure that the contractual relationship between employers and employees is one of mutual, informed consent. It will also aim to prevent any abusive practices such as a different job offer on arrival to the UAE. Secondary benefits include preventing the spread of infectious diseases and cases of identity fraud. As medical tests and biometrics used to take place after arrival to the UAE, there has in the past been costs associated with medical quarantine and deportation.


This new system builds on previous changes introduced by Ministerial Decree 764, which changed the way employment relationships are governed. As of January 2016 a formal job offer has been made part of the process and employers now need to submit information to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to have a job offer generated. This job offer stipulates the working conditions of the job and must be accompanied by the relevant annexes which outline rights and responsibilities for the employer and employee. The job offer and annexes can be issued in 11 languages. The rationale for this change was to have commonly understood and enforceable employment conditions before an individual arrives in the UAE.

The off shore visa centers will enable this by facilitating the bulk of the immigration process in the home country, rather than after arrival to the UAE.

Next steps

Employers should take note of this new initiative and change their approach to the UAE recruitment process as appropriate. If employers regularly recruit to the UAE from countries listed in phase one, they should start to train their HR and talent teams on the process for the new visa centers.

EYG no. DN0971

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