UAE work visas: Employers are advised to guarantee “demographic diversity” in their hiring

Select South Asian nationals have had difficulty obtaining work visas for prospective employees, according to select companies in the United Arab Emirates. An alert from the authorities appears when businesses that employ a disproportionate number of persons of a given nationality apply for new visas for members of that nationality, requesting that they “achieve demographic diversity while hiring”.

However, visa specialists and representatives flatly denied popular allegations that the United Arab Emirates has ceased providing visas to Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India citizens.

Upon contacting the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE) in Dubai, a business service center was informed that employers are required to hire a diverse pool of nationalities. They have to make sure that diverse nationalities receive the “first 20 percent of available quotas in the establishments.” It is noteworthy that this process is not connected to any particular country, but rather to the demographic variety of the establishments.

Businesses were advised to consider recruiting a worker from a different country if they get the directive to increase diversity.

The MoHRE has been contacted by Khaleej Times to request a statement. A representative from the ministry’s phone center verified to KT that a company’s first twenty percent of employees need to be diversified. “To meet diversity requirements, a company must hire a person of a different nationality for the same role if, for instance, its application for a visa for a specific employee is denied due to lack of diversity,” the spokesperson stated. “It is universal and applies to all people without regard to their nationality.”

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Additionally, She said that businesses might hire people of any nationality after reaching the 20% diversity target.

Dismissing claims on social media that the authorities have stopped issuing visas to Indians, Firosekhan, managing director of Dubai-based Profound Business Service, explained: “I got visa for an Indian applicant at a company that has a diverse workforce. However, when I tried to get one for an applicant at an establishment with an overwhelming majority of Indian employees, I got the ‘achieve diversity’ message.”

The UAE wishes to increase diversity in the workplace, according to an executive of another business center.

“Many companies in the UAE have a majority of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis as employees. So if a company already has a large number of employees from these three nationalities, they are not able to apply for new visas for people from the same countries,” said Abdul Gafoor, general manager of Al Mas Businessmen Service.

As of Thursday, this rule was not applicable to freezones. “None of the companies operating out of free zones have faced issues with getting work permits issued,” he said. “So far, it looks like something that is only applicable to mainland companies.”

The MoHRE had announced a three-tier system of classification in 2022. One of the requirements for enterprises to receive a higher classification—and consequently, a reduction on work permits and transfer fees—was to achieve diversity in their employment practices.

Making the social and cultural variety of the UAE “an integral part of the core values of the companies in the private sector” is the goal of the diversity policy, according to the MoHRE. This will be accomplished by providing fair job opportunities, empowering UAE citizens in accordance with the applicable percentages of Emiratization, and diversifying the cultural backgrounds of their workforce.

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