At a Glance

  • All foreign nationals seeking employment in Federal Iraq must now undergo a mandatory blood test in their country of residence prior to travel. Previously, some foreign nationals could complete their blood tests in Iraq.

  • Foreign nationals subject to this requirement who fail to provide their blood test results upon arrival will be denied entry.

  • The new rule is expected to reduce overall processing times for work and residence permits in jurisdictions where post-arrival requirements take a significant amount of time to complete but may on the other hand delay foreign nationals’ arrival dates in Iraq.

The situation

All foreign nationals seeking employment in Federal Iraq must now undergo a mandatory blood test and must also have their blood test authenticated at an Iraqi consulate prior to travel. Foreign nationals subject to this policy who fail to provide their blood test results upon arrival will be denied entry.

A closer look

  • Previous requirement. Previously, foreign nationals who obtained a multiple-entry visa upon arrival based on an approved visa invitation letter could complete their blood test in Iraq. Even such foreign nationals must now complete their blood test prior to arrival.

  • Details of blood test requirement. The blood test requirement remains unchanged; foreign nationals must prove that they are clear of contagious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Nationals from select countries must also be tested for malaria, including those from many African countries.

  • Exemptions. The new regulation does not affect foreign nationals who renew their multiple-entry visa in Iraq, as their blood test will be completed in Iraq, or those traveling for employment to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Impact

The new rule is expected to reduce the overall processing time in jurisdictions where post-arrival requirements, including a blood test, take a significant time to complete (for example, in oil fields and in military bases where increased security measures have a major impact on the process).

However, the new process may delay the entry of foreign nationals to Iraq as they are required to fulfil these requirements prior to travel.

Background

  • Increased focus on health requirements. The Iraqi government has been increasing regulations on blood testing recently. For example, the government began requiring foreign residents holding a multiple entry-exit visa in Iraq who traveled outside the country after the expiry of their latest blood test to schedule another test within 10 days of their return to Iraq.

  • Medical exam practices in the Middle East. Iraq’s required medical exams are in line with similar practice in the region. Some countries, including Saudi Arabia (where consular processing is an integral part of the immigration process) require that foreign nationals first conduct their medical examinations in their country of residence and then again after arrival. In other jurisdictions in the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, only nationals of select countries must complete their medical tests prior to arrival, while all other nationalities are subject to medical testing after arrival.

Looking ahead

Although foreign nationals are currently denied entry if they arrive in Iraq without valid blood test results, the government is planning to open blood test centers at Iraqi airports so individuals may complete the process upon arrival. Fragomen will provide updates on these centers as they become available.