Fragomen Worldwide - February News Flash

Date Posted:Mon, 10th Feb 2020

Fragomen Worldwide - February News Flash

Immigration Developments in the MENA Region


The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced a new long-term visa scheme for tourists. According to the announcement, the new visa will be available for all nationalities, will have a validity of up to five years and will allow for multiple entries into the country.


The Governments of Russia and Qatar have signed a memorandum of understanding on the mutual abolition of entry visa requirement for citizens of each country. Currently, Russian citizens already benefit from visa-free entry to Qatar for tourism, while Qatari nationals are required to obtain a visa before they travel to Russia. It is unclear whether the agreement will impact any existing conditions of stay of Russian nationals in Qatar (including duration of stay), or if these conditions will remain unchanged. It is expected that the agreement will come into effect once it has been ratified by the governments of both countries.


The Ministry of Interior (MOI) has formally advised all Qatari and foreign residents in Qatar as well as employers to register their local address through the Metrash2 mobile application or the MOI website. Certain immigration processes such as work, and Family Residence Permit renewal applications may be delayed if the applicant does not have a registered national address.

Saudi Arabia

The General Authority of Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia issued a circular requesting all airlines to allow passengers with visas issued by a Schengen Member State, the United Kingdom or the United States travelling to Saudi Arabia for tourism to embark as they are now eligible to obtain a visa upon arrival per an expanded policy, and no longer require a visa prior to travel. In October 2019, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage’s issued more detailed regulations and included holders of visas issued by select third countries to be eligible for a visa-on-arrival, but the law was not fully implemented in practice until now.


Employers in Saudi Arabia that received a notification from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development to register for a self-evaluation compliance review program, must ensure to complete their assessment by 30 January 2020, or risk suspension of all labour related transactions with the MLSD. The self-assessment consists of three sections focused on compliance with standards related to obtaining employment permits, disbursement of wages, employment contracts as well as regulations for the employment of specific categories of workers, including women, minors and persons with disabilities, among others. Employers that fail to complete the self-evaluation may face suspension of all labour related transactions with the MLSD.


Effective 15 January 2020, the Philippine government had banned its citizens from working in Kuwait. Due to this ban, employers in Kuwait are not be able to hire Filipino nationals until the ban is lifted. Filipino nationals who were already employed in Kuwait on or before 15 January are not affected. As per internal regulations in the Philippines, all Filipinos traveling abroad for work must register with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and obtain an employment certificate before they can depart from the country.


Nationals of Serbia and Ukraine are now eligible to apply for a pre-approved visitor visa through the electronic portal before arrival to Bahrain. A total of 69 nationalities can currently benefit from the visa-on-arrival program, and citizens of 121 countries can obtain a pre-approved e-visa.


In a reversal of a previous rule that allowed employers in the oil and gas sector in Iraq to work directly with the Ministry of Interior during the employment visa application process without a prior approval from the respective concession-holding company (also referred to as Field Office Division, or FOD), employers in the industry are again required to work with FODs to obtain employment visa pre-approval. Affected employers and foreign nationals should account for delays for all immigration applications that require a pre-approval from FOD which may take anytime between one and five weeks, depending on the FOD.

About Fragomen

 Fragomen is the world’s leading single-focus provider of immigration services and support. Our firm is comprised of law practices and immigration consultancies that work together to support our clients across all regions globally. At Fragomen, we leverage our collective immigration experience to offer clients targeted and trusted solutions that help them achieve their local, regional and worldwide business goals.

 Fragomen’s team of dedicated immigration professionals has extensive experience in working with multinational businesses, local employers, start-ups and individual investors. We have a deep understanding of the region and maintain strong professional relationships with immigration authorities. Our MENA immigration team is supported on a global basis by over 3,800 immigration professionals in more than 50 offices worldwide. Together, we provide comprehensive immigration support in over 170 countries.

 All we do is immigration, a sole focus that makes a considerable difference. Unlike many other providers, all of our thinking, passion and resources are dedicated to improving the immigration experiences of our clients and their employees. We have the track record, region specific experience and know-how to provide you with a streamlined and compliant immigration solution.

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