Expat businessmen given one month to transfer labor cards

Public Media | June 2004


More than 200,000 expatriate businessmen who hold labor cards have a month from tomorrow to cancel and transfer them to Department of Naturalization and Residency, a senior official said.

"During the grace period, which will end on July 20, these businessmen will be exempted from any fines incurred because of failure to renew them on time," said Humaid bin Deemas, assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

"Those who fail to benefit from the grace period will get their permits cancelled automatically once the period ends. They will have to pay fines. The residency department will not process their documents unless they produce a certificate from the labor ministry saying they have cancelled their labor cards," he added.

Labor cards not renewed for six months will incur a fine of Dh500, six months to a year will get a fine of Dh1,000 and Dh2,000 for more than a year.

A decision issued by Matar Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, this month invited businessmen and self-employed craftsmen to take advantage of the grace period.

Those who do not employ workers are now obtaining their residence visas from the residency departments.

Those employing up to five workers, however, continue to get their permits from the labor ministry.

Managers-cum-partners are also allowed to get a labor card and a residence visa. Other partners are only entitled to businessman's status.

Under the move, people in charge of businesses of any size working with a UAE national partner do not have to obtain a labor card from the labor ministry.

Once businessmen obtain a license from the Economic Department and the residence visa is stamped in his/her passport he or she can start working immediately. The economic departments issue trade licenses to businessmen and residency departments stamp their residence visa.

The labor ministry will only deal with their permits. Officials believe the new measures will curb fraud in visas or labor permits.

Many UAE businessmen agree and believe that the term businessperson should be changed to either businesswoman or businessman.

"All measures should be taken to ensure facilities are given to those who deserve them, and to investments needed by the country, rather than marginal activities that have no economic return," said Mansour Ibrahim Rashid, a UAE businessman, adding that fictitious investments and companies that trade in visas should not be allowed to operate in the country.

He urged authorities issuing licenses to plug loopholes, saying some enter the country on business visas.

Cases have even been uncovered where businessmen have received investor licenses by putting as little as Dh3,000 into a company.

The UAE is set to pass a new law giving foreign investors more incentives and expanding their ownership of projects to spur economic growth.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has completed drafting the FDI law and sent it to each emirate's government for approval before it is presented in its final form to the cabinet for endorsement.


Attempt to keep fraudsters at bay

Businessmen who hold labor cards were asked to cancel and transfer them to the Department of Naturalization and Residency.

A recently issued decision stipulated that businessmen and self-employed craftsmen who employ more than five staff should obtain residence visas from the residency departments, and not from the labor ministry.

Craftsmen owning businesses that employ up to five workers will receive their permits from the labor ministry.

Those who fail to transfer their permits during the grace period will have them cancelled automatically, and will incur fines.

Officials believe the new move will curb fraud in visas and labor permits.

The UAE will soon pass a new law giving foreign investors more incentives to expand their ownership on projects.