The Grid: Visas affect everyone working here. For most business owners in Dubai, understanding employment residency visas takes a while. Can you explain how the labour system works, particularly in relation to the different types of entities, i.e. free zones vs. onshore companies?
Stuart Curtis: When you have an onshore business, you have unlimited access to visas. The difference being that, in the free zones, they give you a number, so you can have two or five. If you need more, you have to upgrade to the next package and pay more money and more money.
If you are onshore, it’s really very much dependent on the size of your office or the business that you do. So for example, if you have 100 employees, you can’t have a 200 square foot office but they are quite reasonable with the amount of employees that you can have. It goes through what we call the Ministry of Labor approval process, where the company actually applies for a quota of people they can hire. If you apply for two people, you need to re-apply once that quota has been exhausted.
The Grid: What information is required to apply for a quote to hire people?
Stuart Curtis: You have to specify what designation they would be, i.e., an accountant or a general manager. You actually build the profile. Is it male or female. Once that is exhausted and you have hired those people, you can then put in another quota so that is really how the labour system works here.
The Grid: And once an employee has a visa, they are free to sponsors family and household help?
Stuart Curtis: Once you have a visa, you can then sponsor your spouse and children. You can also sponsor a maid or driver but they all have limits on them as well in that need to be earning a specific minimum. Men must earn a minimum of AED4,500 and women a minimum of AED 10,000. This is just how it works. Those are just the rules as they stand right now for you to be able to sponsor your family.
The Grid: Ok. So let’s look at visas in free zones.
Stuart Curtis: In the free zones, they aren’t as many stringent requirements for you if you want to become the general manager of a company in a free zone, you can become just that. You will not be asked for your degree, qualifications or CV. Similarly, you won’t be asked how you actually became the general manager or what skills you have to fulfill that role. You can just be the general manager.
The Grid: There are more requirements when establishing yourself as the general manager of your own company onshore though…
Stuart Curtis: In Dubai, onshore, you actually have to submit your degree and qualifications to be able to get this sort of level of title. So, if you want to become a general manager of a company, you have to have a degree, it’s that simple.
The Grid: And for those who are unaware, a designation or title on a Dubai visa is important for more than just status.
Stuart Curtis: Yes, people ask well why they need that title. If you want to travel to Saudi Arabia and various other places, you must be at least a ‘Manager’ otherwise you can’t get a visa so there are some very important things that you need to be aware of.
November 18, 2014
This interview is provided as general information to readers of The Grid. It does not constitute, and should not be construed as, advice on any specific matter or advice on which you should rely, nor does it create any contractual, tortuous or fiduciary relationship. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information.
Interview by May Khizam, Founder and Chief Strategist, The Grid [email protected]
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