Immigration developments in the MENA Region

Date Posted:Mon, 2nd Apr 2018

Immigration developments in the MENA Region


United Arab Emirates
Effective immediately, foreign nationals travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under a short-term visitor visa-on-arrival will receive a single-entry visa for up to 30 days, instead of a multiple-entry visa. Those who depart and re-enter the UAE within or after the visa validity, will be eligible for a new 30-day visa-on-arrival. The visa allows for a one-time extension thus the maximum uninterrupted period of stay is 60 days.
Effective immediately, Nigerian nationals applying for a new employment residence permit sponsored by a company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) must process their immigration application through a designated United Arab Emirates (UAE) visa service centre in Abuja in order to obtain an entry visa. It is expected that similar process will soon be implemented in other jurisdictions within the UAE.

Applications for Nigerian nationals who are in the UAE (e.g. on a visit visa) are currently not impacted by this change.

Saudi Arabia
Employers involved in government projects approved before December 2016 may benefit from compensation from the Ministry of Finance for the increased fees they were subject to for hiring foreign workers from January 2018. Further details of the program are yet to be announced.

Effective 21 March 2018, foreign nationals applying for all visitor visas for tourism, including visas-on-arrival, must to apply through the Royal Oman Police electronic portal prior to travel to Oman. Previously, foreign nationals could obtain a visa-on-arrival directly at the port of entry. 
Employers in Oman will soon require pre-approval from the Ministry of Oil and Gas before filing labour clearance requests at the Ministry of Manpower to hire foreign workers in oil and gas sector. The effective day of this new rule has not been announced.

The Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs Authority has included Azerbaijan on the list of states whose citizens can obtain electronic visitor visas to Bahrain. The e-visa is a renewable multiple-entry visa that allows for a maximum stay of one month in Bahrain. It must be used within 30 days of approval. Paid or unpaid employment is prohibited under this authorisation.

Criminal Record Certificates submitted with employment and residence permit applications must now be valid for more than one month from the date of filing with the Immigration Authority in Morocco. The Criminal Record Certificate is a requirement for obtaining legal immigration status in Morocco. In the past, the authorities accepted certificates without specifying their minimum validity.

About Fragomen

Fragomen is recognized as the world’s leading immigration services firm. We provide comprehensive services for short-term and long-term international assignments, permanent transfers and the local hire of foreign workers. Our knowledge of international legal, regulatory and policy issues allows us to provide our clients with strategic advice and effective and efficient immigration solutions to assist them in achieving and maintaining a competitive edge in the global marketplace. No other firm can match our size, scope, talent or resources. With more than 2,400 immigration professionals throughout over 40 strategically located offices across 20 countries, we offer the highest caliber of migration services available on a global, regional or country basis. Our expansive global network is cohesively unified and connected through use of our proprietary, immigration-specific technology.

Visit our website or contact us at to learn more about our company and services.