The news is out and loud. Effective 4th Feb 2018, foreign nationals seeking employment in the UAE will need to submit legalised Police Clearance Certificates (PCCs) to process new residence permits.

These certificates must be legalized by the UAE Consular Post located in the country that issued them. Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the UAE must also legalize them. All applicants must produce legalised PCCs from their home country and from any other country where they have lived in the past five years. This also applies to domestic helpers who need visas to work in the UAE.

Read more about this news in Fragomen immigration alerts.

The above regulation does not apply to mission visas or tourist or student or medical visa holders in the UAE. The dependants of the main applicant (spouse and children) also remain exempt from this requirement. Also, a foreign national who was born and lived as a dependant in UAE may also be exempt from such requirements if he has not lived in a third country before applying for the UAE work visa.

Background of the Law

The PCC requirement has been under consideration since 2016. Its implementation is meant to augment security and increase scrutiny of the expat population, which constitutes the vast majority of the UAE’s population. Further, PCC requirements are not new in the region and other countries are expected to follow suit in the coming years.

Challenges Ahead

Multiple Police Clearances: People who have lived in two or more countries in the past five years will have to procure the PCCs from all those countries. The time involved in obtaining multiple PCCs poses a particular challenge when the UAE employer is seeking to fill a job vacancy urgently.

Personal Appearance for PCCs: Many countries insist that applicants for PCCs appear in person to provide fingerprints and iris scans. Therefore, applicants seeking a PCC from a country where they do not currently reside may be required to travel to that country, which can prove to be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Missing Immigration Records: Persons who have lived as an expat in any country may be required to provide past immigration records such as previous passports, residence visa copies, entry/exit stamps, visa cancellation documents and similar documentation in order to obtain a PCC. When applicants have not maintained such documentation, obtaining a PCC from a country where they no longer live can prove to be very challenging.

Unfavourable Records and Alternative Documents: UAE job seekers must also be prepared for further challenges if they do not receive a favourable police clearance from any location where they have lived in the past five years. Moreover, it is currently unclear whether the UAE Government will provide any alternatives in such a case or merely deny it.

Validity of PCCs: A PCC’s validity period may differ depending on the country of issuance. It will be crucial in timing your UAE visa application to ensure that all PCCs are valid at the time of submission to the UAE immigration authorities. So far, the UAE Government has not specified if the PCC must be issued within any specified period before filing the work permit (such as 3 or 6 months).

Legalization at UAE Consular Post: All the PCCs must be legalised by the UAE Consular Post based in the country, which issued the PCC. However, if the issuing country does not have a UAE Consular Post, getting the PCC legalised may require additional steps within the country of issuance before it is sent to the nearest UAE Consular Post.