Wednesday, 8 December 2010

UAE Residency Visa Validity Cut

blood, human, splatter, dropsImage via WikipediaGulf News and The National today both report on a new move to cut labour card validity to two years instead of three. This means that residency visas will also now only be valid for two years.

Quite apart from allowing us to look forward to a more frequent bruise on the inside of our right arms along with the attendant paperwork, the move will obviously mean shelling out for a visa, labour card and health card more often. Rather brilliantly, Gulf News attempts to quote the rather confusing story filed by the Emirates' national news agency WAM where it appears to assert that the move will save everyone money. That WAM story appears to have been filed in Arabic only, BTW - I couldn't find hide nor hair of it in English.

According to GN's piece, 70% of all labour cards are cancelled before two years have passed, so reducing their term to two years will save UAE industry Dhs678 million. Apparently total license and work permit fees for 2009 were Dhs2.25 billion.

Let us not dwell churlishly on the fact that 2009 had to have been a record year for cancelled visas because of the good old downturn and the enormous outflux of labourers, let alone all those estate agents, from Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Oh no.

A short time spent trawling the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners website for information on the cost of visa paperwork (also called DNRD, the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department. You'd think they'd make up their minds, wouldn't you?) not only yields some interesting tips on building websites and a peek into some fascinating minds, but also tends to result in returning 'Under Construction' whenever you approach anything that might look like being useful information. Thank goodness for e-government.

However, DubaiFAQs estimates the cost of a visa and the slew of papers, permits and cards that goes with it to be as much as Dhs6,000. If we decrease the validiy of visas by one third (3 years to 2 years), we can perhaps assume that visas will effectively cost us 33% more rather than 70% less. Not only does that cost us more money, it means residence visa revenues would increase to a handy 3 billion dirhams at the, presumably unusually low, 2009 rate.

The move will also result in enhancing 'competitiveness and movement in the job market', GN quotes a Labour Ministry official as saying.

It might well do for all I know. But all I can see is that nasty, dehumanising shuffle around the Satwa clinic and that brutal little needle moment looming closer on the horizon.
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Dave said...

This is little more than a poorly disguised push for increased Emiratisation and revenue.

You have mentioned that visa's will cost 33% more, and I believe you are correct as no UAE Govt will make any decisions at present that would jeopardise or lower there indirect taxation placed on companies and individuals here.

I would also presume that due to the change in visa and labor card timeframes that administrative tasks would rise 33%. The obvious result is the need for more Emirati labor to be employed, indirectly funded by the private sector through visa costs.

In addition, todays Arabic newspapers report that Emiratisation in the private sector will be increased to 15%, a workforce that very few private companies would currently achieve. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what impact this will have on company payrolls......

I am not annoyed at what the Authorities are trying to achieve here with these measures......... but the manner in which they release laughable press releases stating that it will increase competitiveness and lower cost are absolutely deplorable and an insult to business intelligence.

The need to sugar-coat and make the moves sound like intelligent well-thought-out strategies must be driven by some magnificent marketing organisation.... either that or they honestly think most managers and CEO's in the private sector are lacking in grey matter.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

I like the way you have written. I totally agree with your statement..2nd paragraph.

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