Despite the Gulf country housing approximately 2.6 million Indian businessmen and tourists, the UAE has hardly been a major influence in Indian. However, following a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan to India last month, excitement is increasing in India over a potential strategic partnership between the countries and in particular their capital cities (Delhi and Abu Dhabi).

Having selected each other as preferred economic partners, there is an anticipated increase in trade volume between the nations particular as bilateral ties are being made to help secure security and defence between the UAE and India. In order to develop current trade and investment ties between them, both countries signed five Memorandums of Understandings covering the following areas:

  • Telecommunications
  • Tourism
  • Higher education and scientific research
  • Specifications and measures for cooperation between the respective telecom regulatory authorities
  • Specifications and measures for cooperation between the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Agreements between the two sides have taken place under seven sub-committees in areas that include trade and commerce, investments, energy, petrochemicals, defence, security and combating crime, immigration and Indian community-related issues. Important topics discussed between the two sides included issues such as the illegal holding of passports, transfers of Indian labour from other countries, the issue of money laundering and the implementation of model contracts. Both countries are now aiming to increase bilateral trade by 60% over the next 5 years.

Many Indian businesses in the United Arab Emirates with the intention to increase levels of trade will wishing to hire Indian workers will be hoping that the mandatory online recruitment system ‘eMigrate’ for a UAE Work Permit works without any further glitches. Recently the system saw a major software malfunction that found many companies caught out and liable for fines as visas of many employees had expired.

‘EMigrate’ was introduced by the Indian Government in June 2015 in order to smoothen and streamline the recruitment of Indian national for work in a Gulf country. The system requires that Indians who wish to work in the Gulf obtain immigration clearance from India as well as registering on the ‘eMigrate’ website. Successful applicants will get approvals from Indian missions and other relevant authorities.

Indian nationals working in the UAE

Indian nationals wishing to travel to the UAE to work should look to secure a UAE Work Permit issued by the Ministry of Labour. Such permits are a pre-requisite for any company based in the UAE that wishes to employ an Indian worker. Companies based in the UAE who intend to hire an Indian national must be licenced organisations and hold membership of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Indian nationals wishing to work in the UAE must be between the age of 18 and 60 years old, hold appropriate professional and/or academic qualifications for the UAE role, be medically fit and not suffer from any illness, as well as hold a valid passport for at least six months.

Although an offer to work in the UAE might be quite lucrative and exciting, those intending to accept such offer of employment should complete a number of checks themselves before accepting a role. Potential workers should check that the company offering the role:

  • Is existing and functioning in the UAE
  • Should be either known by the worker through a contact in the UAE or be recognised by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate in Dubai
  • The contract of employment should be reviewed and relocation fees discussed upfront to avoid any unexpected invoices or claw-backs.

The contract of employment plays an important role for the Labour Department in the UAE as it acts as a reference for all the details of employment. Once the employment contract has been filed with the Labour Department, the worker will become recognised by the state.

The employment contract is also required for the issuing of an UAE Labor Card. The Labor Card provides workers with an identity and gives workers the right to work for the company they have signed a contract with in the UAE. Employers should obtain a Labor Cad for the recruited worker within 60 days of the worker’s arrival in the UAE. If an employer fails to do so the worker should contact the UAE Labor Department immediately and inform them of their employment and entry.

We understand that whilst on visas in the UAE workers may wish to switch employers for one reason or another. Recognised workers in the UAE wishing to switch employers (change sponsorship / UAE work permit) are permitted to switch into one of the following categories:

  1. Engineers.
  2. Doctors, pharmacists and nurses.
  3. Universities and higher college teachers.
  4. Experts, legal consultants, economists, financial and management staff, who hold university higher degrees.
  5. Computer/information system analysts and programmers, who hold university degrees in these field.
  6. Specialist and technicians in the field of oil and gas exploration and other related fields.
  7. Athletes’ coaches for different sports.
  8. Specialists in sea and air navigation.
  9. Other categories subject to Ministry approval.

Conditions in which a worker could be transferred to a new sponsor include:

  1. The worker must hold the same occupation for the new sponsor as they held with the prior sponsor.
  2. The worker holds a valid residence visa stamped on his/her passport.
  3. The worker has completed at least 2 years of service with the previous employer.
  4. The worker is likely to not obtain objection from their previous employer after completing two years.
  5. There must be evidence that there is no UAE or GCC citizen who is registered as a job applicant with the competent authorities suitable to occupy the job.