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Laws and Regulations

Dubai Visa Ban

14 September 2015

What is a ban?

A ban is a legal mechanism that prevents a resident or an employee from re-entering the country, or from accepting a position with a new employer for a fixed period of time, usually for six months.

Permanent Residency Ban

A permanent residency ban is usually imposed for serious labour offences committed, particularly meant for illegal or absconding workers, illegal aliens or convicted felons. The Federal Department of Immigration maintains a file of fingerprint samples and retina scans of banned individuals.

Labour Ban

A labour ban is usually given under the following circumstances:

  • When your contract expires and no action is being taken by your current employer pertaining to your employment or no new application by a different employer is filed for you.
  • When you terminate an unlimited labour contract before completing one year of service.
  • When you terminate a limited labour contract before its date of expiry.

To Avoid a Labour Ban

To avoid being banned, you should ensure that your current employer has taken appropriate action to extend your employment contract with the Department of Labour, prior to expiry of your labour contract. If you are undergoing a job change, ensure that your sponsorship has been transferred to the new employer; else, your Labour Card will be cancelled, or be banned.

In case, of an absconding employee, the employer will have to file an absconding case to get the visa of the employee cancelled, and to replace the employee. If not replaced, still, the absconding case will have to be filed, to get back the refundable bank guarantee paid for the employee. However, being an absconder, such an employee will be blacklisted and will not be granted any kind of visa to enter UAE in future. In case the employer fails to file an absconding case against the missing employee, as per UAE Labour Law, a minimum of one year ban would still be applicable.

Dubai Visa Ban

Types of Ban

There are various types of bans. Expats and visitors may be subjected to an entry ban and/or a work ban, depending on what they have done while they have been in the UAE.

Immigration Ban

An immigration ban denies permit to enter the UAE, irrespective of whether the person intends to enter as a visitor or for residency. Reasons for an immigration ban could be anything ranging from a criminal offence while in UAE, to any common offences that expats could get into, such as bad debts, bounced cheques, drinking in public, drinking and driving, theft, rape, violence, and inappropriate relationships. Criminal offences are usually liable for permanent immigration ban.

In fact, an immigration ban can be given even if you have just broken any of the rules pertaining to immigration laws, such as entering the country illegally, or working without a work permit, overstaying your visa, absconding without informing your sponsor etc.

Employment Ban / Work Permit Ban / Labour Ban

An employment ban, work permit ban and labour ban are all the same. All of these imply that you are not permitted to work in the UAE for a specific period of time. An employment ban could be for six months, one year, or permanent.

Six month ban: A six month ban is imposed automatically, when you leave a job without a valid reason. The ban is imposed on providing a work permit or labour card imposed by Labour Ministry (MOL). A six month labour ban does not, however, affect permission to enter UAE. You can enter on a visit or tourist visa. A six month ban will be imposed on all automatically, unless they are under the one-year ban category, or are exempted from the ban.

One year ban: A one year ban is mostly imposed if a worker resigns prior to completion of limited period contract. In case of one year ban or permanent labour ban, you will be restricted from even visiting the UAE. A one year ban will be imposed under the following circumstances:

  • Cases where expatriate workers leave government jobs
  • Cases where expatriate workers break the terms of their labour contract and/or the labour law
  • In cases where expatriates lose a case with UAE labour department against their employer, if they were on temporary work permit, as they had filed a complaint with labour department
  • Also, possibly in cases where workers leave their jobs within a year of joining

Applying for new work permits while in ban

Employers can begin processing work permits for banned employees prior to completion of ban, to facilitate quicker issue of labour cards. This is because, the Ministry of Labour, automatically blocks new applications after the expiry of ban period.

Lifting Labour Ban

Workers in the UAE, who receive a six-month labour ban for breaking contract within two years, can have the ban lifted under the following conditions as per UAE Labour Law:

  • Should possess a minimum qualification of high school diploma
  • Should be drawing a minimum salary of Dh.5000 in new job (for HS Diploma holders), Dh.7000 (for diploma holders) and Dh.12,000 (for Bachelor degree holders).

Note: Despite these conditions, a six-month labour ban will be imposed on employees who quit jobs prior to completing two years of service, although, the ban can be lifted if the new employer offers the candidate a good position and an appropriate salary. These rules are applicable only to employees on unlimited contracts, or possibly workers on limited contract, or those who complete their contracts or terminate contracts prior to expiry with agreement of their employer.

Sponser transfer and Ban lifting fee

It is possible to avoid a ban/ lift a ban by paying a fee, in case you are transferring from one sponsor to another. This is different from cancelling your residence visa or work permit. It is not clear if a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from employer is necessary for processing this. However, for exact details of ban lifting fee (which may vary depending on certain occupations), it is better to check with the labour department helpline of the emirate you are working in.

No Labour Ban

Listed below are certain cases when a labour ban may not be imposed:

  • A Labour ban (or immigration ban) will not be imposed on UAE nationals
  • Expatriate workers moving into a government job will not be banned
  • Oil company employees may not be banned
  • Expat workers moving to another employer within the same free trade zone
  • Expatriates who have completed a fixed term contract, and have submitted proper resignation notice
  • Expatriates who have completed the one year term of an unlimited contract, and hold a NOC from the current employer
  • Expatriates who are sponsored by their spouse for a residence visa
  • Expatriates who have worked for a company for more than three years on unlimited contract

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries