Getting a work permit
According to Article 6 of the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, known as the ‘UAE Labour Law’, it is illegal for a person to work in the UAE without a valid work permit issued according to the procedures set out by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).
Types of work permits
MoHRE issues 12 types of work permits which allow establishments registered with MoHRE to recruit employees, depending on the nature of the job. The types of permit are:
- a work permit to recruit a worker from outside the UAE
- a work permit to transfer a foreign worker from one establishment to another
- a work permit for a resident on a family sponsorship
- a temporary work permit to hire a worker to complete a job within a specific period
- one-mission work permit to recruit a worker from abroad to complete a temporary job, or a particular project for a specific period
- a part-time work permit to recruit a worker under a part-time contract where his working hours or days are less than his full-time contract
- a juvenile permit to recruit a juvenile between 15 and 18 years
- a student training and employment permit to employ a 15-year old student who is already in the UAE
- UAE/GCC national permit to employ a UAE or a GCC national
- a golden visa holder permit to employ a worker holding the UAE’s Golden Residence visa
- national trainee permit to train a UAE national
- a freelance permit issued to self-sponsored foreigners in the UAE, who provide services or perform tasks to individuals or companies (without being sponsored by a specific employer in the UAE and without having an employment contract).
Process for applying for, renewing and cancelling work permits
To apply for a work permit
To apply for a work permit, the establishment must:
- have a valid trade licence and
- the application must be filed by the authorised signatory of the establishment.
MoHRE may refrain from issuing or renewing, or may cancel work permits if the establishment:
- provides incorrect documents
- is fictitious or does not exercise its registered activity
- is not compliant with the ‘Wages Protection System’ or any other system adopted for the regulation of the national labour market.
To cancel a work permit
When cancelling a work permit, the establishment must acknowledge that it has paid the worker all his entitlements. The worker's signature must be on the permit cancellation form.
Find more information on work permits in Articles 6 and 7 of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation Regulation of Federal Decree law No. 33 of 2021.
Additionally, learn about the situations in which the employer is not considered late in issuing and renewing the work permit as mentioned in Article 3 of the Ministerial Decree No. 46 of 2022 Regarding Work Permits, Job Offers and Employment Contracts Forms.
Cost of work permits
The cost of issuing and renewing a work permit ranges from AED 250 to AED 3,450, and it depends on the company’s classification: A, B or C.
The classification reflects the extent of companies’ compliance with the UAE’s labour law, the Wages Protection System, relevant MoHRE resolutions and directives, laws relating to workers’ rights and with the policy of promoting cultural and demographic diversity. Companies with a history of violations and lack of commitment will be placed in category C.
Learn more about the new fees for renewing or amending work permits and contracts and transferring workers from one company to another as per Cabinet Resolution No. 37 of 2022 Regarding the Amendment of Some Provisions of Cabinet Resolution No. 21 of 2020 Concerning Service Fees and Administrative Fines in the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
Below is a list of the annexes attached in the resolution:
Suspension of new work permits for violating firms
According to Ministerial Resolution No. 543 of 2022 Regarding Administrative Suspension of an Establishment’s File (PDF, 300 KB), firms will be denied new work permits if they commit any of the following four violations:
- committing breaches stipulated in the Cabinet Resolution No. 21 of 2020 regarding service fees and administrative fines in the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (PDF, 135 KB)
- failing to provide appropriate labour accommodations according to the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No. 44 of 2022 Regarding Occupational Health and Safety and labour accommodation (PDF, 265 KB)
- facing allegations of human trafficking
- abusing the privilege granted to access the MoHRE systems, which could result in a disruption of the ministry’s procedures.
The above resolution specifies the duration for which work permits will be suspended. It also mentions the measures that the violating firms could take to rectify their acts and omissions, and fulfil their legal obligations to become entitled to obtain work permits again. Find details relating to duration in the table below:
(Image source: Ministerial Resolution No. 543 of 2022, MoHRE).
Updated on 19 May 2023