Abstract

This article provides a concise overview of the Work Permits available in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and outlines the Visa and Work Permit requirements as mandated by the ADGM Authority. Entities registered under ADGM need to note that the fees and document requirements specified herein serve as preliminary information only, subject to future amendments to the ADGM Registry. The article aims to guide ADGM-registered entities through the compliance landscape, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the regulations stipulated by ADGM.  

A guide to job visas and work permits in ADGM: Understand the essentials for compliance and regulation adherence for companies. 

Got an exciting job offer from a top-notch company in ADGM? Wondering about the paperwork you need to get started? Or maybe you’ve just snagged a superstar for your team in ADGM and you’re trying to figure out what documents you need to have in order. This article breaks down all the nitty-gritty on the documents and compliance stuff you need to know about in ADGM, whether you’re stepping in as an employee or you’re on the hiring side as an employer 

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a financial–free zone in UAE, which is marked as one of the pioneer free zones that have its own regulatory framework and laws. All employment–related matters are dealt with under the ADGM Employment Regulations of 2019 (the “Regulations”) along with the rules that were implemented thereof.  

Visa and Work Permit requirements in ADGM

When an employer hires an employee, the employer has the sole obligation to obtain the work permit, maintain it, bear the cost of the work permit, as well as to apply for a UAE Residency Visa, and UAE Identity Card (the Emirates ID or the EID).

The employer and their employees shall be supported by the corporate relations office at ADGM in order to obtain the relevant work permits and applicable visas for the employees.

What is a Work Permit?

– A work permit is a document that enables the employee of an ADGM–registered entity by giving the permission to work within or from the Al Maryah Island and the Al Reem Island (which is the geographical location where the ADGM is currently situated). This document is called a Work Permit, which gives the employee the right to work within the ADGM Authorities.
– A Work Permit is issued only by the ADGM Registration Authority (ADGM RA) to the employees who are working in ADGM.
– To apply for a Work Permit, an employer must have a valid license issued by the ADGM RA, an establishment card, and an E-Channels account with ADGM. The detailed checklist of documents will be issued once the employer is registered with ADGM, and upon request.

What are the Visa services in ADGM?

– A newly registered ADGM Entity (the employer) shall apply for an employment visa through the access portal given by the ADGM authority.
– An already existing ADGM entity (the employer) shall apply for an employment visa through the registered company portal.
– For a newly registered entity, there are two prerequisites from the immigration departments that an employer must follow, i.e., to apply for an Establishment Card (which would be processed within five (5) working days) and to apply for an E-channels account (which would be processed within one (1) working day).

Documents Required to Apply for an Employment Visa

  1. i. A copy of the employee’s passport, which shall be valid for at least six months;
  2. Passport–size photo of the employee with white background; and
  3. The employment contract or an offer letter issued on the letterhead of the employer.
  4. Any other documents as required by the ADGM RA, as and when the required.

– For Financial and a Non-Financial business categories, which performs standard business activities, the minimum visa eligibility is two visas per desk. Whereas, if the company performs any innovation activities, the minimum visa eligibility is three visas per desk. The minimum area requirement for one visa is 8 sq m.

– The said requirement varies depending upon the business category and business activity that the employer is performing.

Who is eligible to obtain a Work Permit?

There are three major kinds of Work Permits that ADGM grants to an employee:

  1. Work Permits for a full-time employee who is sponsored by an ADGM-licensed person;
  2. Work Permits for a full-time employee who is non–sponsored;
  3. Temporary Work Permits

Work Permits for a Full Time Employee who is Sponsored

This category covers employees who are not UAE or a GCC National and are sponsored by the ADGM RA.

This kind of Work Permits is issued only upon obtaining the employment visa.

There are no additional fees applicable for this Work Permit as they are included within the visa package as chosen by the employer.

Document requirements: The following is the list of standard documents required while applying for a Work Permit:

  1. A colour copy of the passport, which includes the personal details of the sponsor along with the visa stamp page;
  2. A colour copy of the passport of the sponsor which includes the personal details of the employee along with the visa stamp page;
  3. A passport size photograph of the employee with white background (more than 200 dpi resolution with .jpg format);
  4. A copy of the Employment contract or an offer letter signed by the sponsor as well as the employee.
  5. NOC from the sponsor

Work Permits – Full time Non–Sponsored Employees

This is a category that is sub divided into 3 sub categories:

a. Employees sponsored by a spouse or a parent: they are directly employed by an ADGM Entity however, they are sponsored by their parent or spouse. There are no additional fees paid for a period of 1 year to 3 years (depending upon the term of employment). After a period of 3 years (or upon renewing), an amount of AED 300 is payable as a renewal fee. Along with the standard documents, an NOC from the Sponsor is required while granting the Work Permit for this category of employees.

b. UAE & GCC Nationals: they are not required to obtain an employment visa as they are national employees. However, the employer must obtain a Work Permit for such employees so that they are enabled to work in Al Maryah and Al Reem Islands in ADGM. There are no additional fees paid for a period of 1 year to 3 years (depending upon the term of employment). After a period of 3 years (or upon renewing), an amount of AED 300 is payable as a renewal fee. Along with the list of standard documents, the Emirates ID of the employee as well as the employer is required to obtain a Work Permit for this category.

c. Golden Visa Holders: This category covers individuals directly employed by an ADGM Licensed Person, and have been granted the long term Residence Visa as per the UAE Government Golden Visa Program. There are no additional fees paid for a period of 1 year to 3 years (depending upon the term of employment). After a period of 3 years (or upon renewing), an amount of AED 300 is payable as a renewal fee.

ADGM Temporary Work Permits

A Work Permit issued to the employees of the ADGM who will work for their employees on a temporary basis. They do not fall within the definition of employees under the ADGM Regulations.
Standard Documents required for applying for a Temporary Work Permits are:

  1. A copy of the passport of the employee with a visa page (clear copy);
  2. The photograph of the employee with a white background; and
  3. Commercial License or trade license copy of the sponsor or employer.

Four kinds of individuals fall within the category of Temporary Work Permits. They are:

a. Interns: who are students or trainees who work within the ADGM registered entities with minimum pay or no pay to purely gain experience or for academic purposes only. The fees for applying for a Work Permit for an Intern is starting from AED 300 for 3 months, AED 600 for 6 months, and AED 1,200 for 12 months. Other than the standard documents, an Internship Agreement is required to apply for a Work Permit.

b. Secondees: who are temporarily appointed on a secondment basis, who have the right to work in UAE but do not hold a visa granted by the ADGM RA. The fees for applying for such a Work Permit is starting from AED 300 for 3 months, AED 600 for 6 months, and AED 1,200 for 12 months. Other than the standard documents, a Secondment agreement or a letter from the ADGM Entity or Employer demonstrating details of the relationship with the employee is required.

c. Outsourced Individuals: who are temporarily working for one or more ADGM entities or employers, with an outsourcing agreement with all of them. They also have the right to work in the UAE but do not hold a visa granted by the ADGM RA. The fees for applying for such a Work Permit is starting from AED 300 for 3 months, AED 600 for 6 months, and AED 1,200 for 12 months. Other than the standard documents, an Outsourcing Agreement from the ADGM Entity is required.

d. Temporary Freelancers: are not an employee, but are individuals who provide services within or from ADGM on a temporary basis. They are exclusively under the control of the ADGM Registered Entities, and who hold a freelance license from the UAE Free Zone Authority. The fees for applying for such a Work Permit is starting from AED 300 for 3 months, AED 600 for 6 months, and AED 1,200 for 12 months. Other than the standard documents, a Letter of Engagement or a Freelance Agreement, and a copy of the Freelance license is required.

The above–given fees and the documents are preliminary information and may vary depending on any amendments to the ADGM Registry from time to time. This article intends to give a brief overview of the available Work Permits in ADGM and the Visa and Work Permit requirements that are mandated by the ADGM Authority. All the ADGM registered entities must follow the rules as stipulated in the ADGM Regulations from time to time.

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats. Please feel free to reach out to us at office@atblegal.com for a non-obligatory initial consultation.

by Aparna T Nambissan

Aparna is a legal consultant at ATB legal. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Commerce from Karnataka State Law University. She is enrolled with the Bar Council of Karnataka.

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