There was concern amongst the business community in the UAE during the summer months when the Dubai Courts issued heavy fines against companies employing workers either on the wrong visa or working illegally (due to workers entering the country on visit visas) in the UAE. Dubai's Ministry of Labour referred four companies to the Dubai Public Prosecution for employing 146 workers illegally; 142 of the workers were holding visas issued by another Emirate's free zone and the remaining four workers had entered the country on visit visas. The four companies face fines up to 50,000 dirhams each under Federal Law No. 8 of 1980.
The reason why this is causing concern is because it is common for employees to enter the country on a visit visa and begin their employment until the correct procedures have been followed to obtain a work visa. However, whilst this is common practice it is not in strict accordance with the law, and both the individual as well as the company face the risk of a penalty (which could include imprisonment) if caught. In reality, any penalty is likely to be avoided if the company can demonstrate that the visa application is in progress. However, it is best practice to follow a high standard with regards to employees working under the correct visa especially now that it seems that the authorities are becoming stricter on how the law is applied.
With this in mind, companies in the UAE should be aware of the consequences of not issuing the correct visas to its employees and do everything to ensure employees' visas are issued swiftly and in the correct manner.