Working Without a Work Permit in UAE: Legal Consequences

  • December 22, 2023
  • 2 min read

In a land of opportunity, it is definitely going to be attracting offers for professionals from around the world seeking career advancement and a better life in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Indeed, the country boasts a thriving economy, diverse job market, and tax-free income, making it a magnet for talented individuals. Nevertheless, securing a work permit in UAE and visa is very important for legal employment in the country. Unfortunately, some individuals are working without employment visa, unaware of the severe consequences that await them.

In this article, we will discuss what is work permit in UAE and delve into the legal repercussions of laboring without a work permit in UAE. In addition, we will explore the various penalties you may face, the impact on your career and reputation, and the financial and personal risks involved.

What is a Work Permit in UAE?

For many international professionals, the allure of working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is undeniable. With its booming economy, diverse job market, and attractive tax benefits, the UAE offers exciting career opportunities. However, navigating the visa and work permit process can be discouraging, especially for first-timers. 

Firstly, let us shed light on the purpose and significance of a work permit. In essence, a UAE work permit is a legal document issued by the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) that allows foreign nationals to work legally within the country. It is composed of two main documents: the residence visa allows the individual to reside in the UAE for a specific period, typically linked to their employment contract. On the other hand, many people wonder what is a labour card in UAE. This document acts as the official work permit, specifying the individual's profession, employer, and salary details. Both elements are crucial for legal employment within the UAE.

How to Get a Work Permit in UAE?

Prior to initiating the work permit process, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the different types of work permits available in the UAE. Also, it is important to do some research about specific requirements and eligibility criteria for your desired permit.

  • Standard Work Permit: for employees sponsored by their employers, working in either the private or government sectors.
  • One-Mission Work Permit: ideal for temporary projects or short-term assignments, allowing companies to recruit foreign workers for specific purposes.
  • Freelance Permit: enables self-sponsored individuals to offer their expertise and services to companies or individuals without the need for a traditional employment contract.
  • Green Visa: this recently introduced five-year residence visa caters to skilled professionals, granting them the freedom to self-sponsor their residency, eliminating the requirement for an employer sponsor.

Also, you must secure an employment offer from a UAE-based company or get a freelancer license. This employer will act as your sponsor throughout the application process.

Obtain the Entry Visa  

The first step in your journey on how to get work permit in UAE involves obtaining an entry visa. This visa allows you to enter the UAE and initiate the work permit application process. The entry visa allows you to initiate the work permit application once you enter the UAE. Your employer can submit your work permit application to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) on your behalf.

Possessing an entry visa allows you to visit the UAE and explore potential job opportunities firsthand. You can attend networking events, meet with potential employers, and gain valuable insights into the job market. Before committing to a specific job offer, you can utilize your entry visa to conduct thorough research on the company, the industry, and the overall living conditions in the UAE. This informed decision-making can lead to a more fulfilling professional experience.

Obtain the Employment Contract With Signature 

Once you secure a job offer, your employer will provide you with an employment contract. This contract should be signed by both you and your employer, outlining the terms and conditions of your employment. The contract serves as a vital document throughout the work permit application process. It details crucial information such as:

  • Job title and responsibilities
  • Salary and benefits
  • Working hours and leave entitlements
  • Probation period
  • Termination clauses

This signed contract is a fundamental document that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) requires when processing your work permit application. Without it, your application will be incomplete and invalid, consequently delaying your journey to employment.

Approval of the Work Permit Application 

Above all, the work permit approval signifies the official recognition of your qualifications and skills by the UAE authorities. It unlocks access to various essential services in the UAE, including healthcare, education, and banking, enabling you to positively integrate into the community. Moreover, it brings you one step closer to confidently begin your new job and contribute to your employer's success. 

On the other hand, the work permit paves the way for obtaining a residence visa, granting you the right to live and work in the UAE for the duration of your employment. Therefore, with a secured job and legal working status, the work permit allows you to earn a stable income and build a financially secure future.

Medical Examinations, Biometric Procedure, And Work Permit 

Additionally, you will need to undergo a mandatory medical examination at a MOHRE-approved medical center. This examination ensures you meet the health standards required for working in the UAE.

Following the approval of your work permit application, you will be required to visit an Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) center for a biometric procedure. This process involves capturing your fingerprints and photograph, which will be used to create your Emirates ID, a vital identification document essential for living and working in the UAE.

Upon completion of the biometric procedure and payment of any associated fees, the MOHRE will issue your official work permit. This document allows you to legally work in the UAE and serves as proof of your legal employment status.

Which requirements does an employee need to work in the UAE?

Next are described the key documents and considerations for individuals seeking employment in the UAE.

Getting a job 

This job offer serves as the foundation upon which your visa application and work permit will be built. Prior to accepting any offer, ensure the job aligns with your skills, qualifications, and career goals. Thoroughly research the company, understand the salary and benefits package, and negotiate any necessary terms.

Visa and passport 

Certainly, obtaining the appropriate visa is essential for legally working in the UAE. The type of visa required will depend on your employment contract and profession. Common visa types include:

  • Employment Visa: sponsored by your employer, this visa allows you to enter the UAE specifically for the purpose of employment.
  • Visit Visa: this visa grants a short-term stay in the UAE. If you secure a job offer during your visit, you can convert your visa to an employment visa.
  • Freelance Visa: enables self-employed individuals to work on projects or provide services to companies in the UAE.

While obtaining the correct visa is crucial, it is equally important to ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in the UAE. A valid passport allows you to enter and exit the country seamlessly and prevents any delays in your visa application process.

How to Check Validity Status of Labour Card / Employment Visa in UAE? 

There are two primary methods for checking the validity of your Labour Card and Employment Visa in the UAE:

1) Online Verification:

  • MOHRE Website: The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) website offers a convenient online platform for checking your employment status. Visit the website and navigate to the "Enquiry Services" section. Depending on the case, go to the section "Labour Card Information" or "Employment Visa Information". Enter your Labour Card number or passport number, respectively, and click submit. The system will display your current visa and Labour Card validity status.
  • Smart Dubai App: The Smart Dubai app provides a mobile-friendly alternative for online verification of Dubai work permit. Sign in using your UAE Pass credentials and navigate to the "My Services'' section. Select "Labour Card Information'' or "Employment Visa Information'' and follow the prompts to access your validity status.

2) Offline Verification:

  • Tas'heel Service Centres: Visiting a Tas'heel service center allows for in-person verification. These centers are located throughout the UAE and offer a range of government services, including employment-related assistance. Provide your Labour Card or passport to the service representative, and they will retrieve your current visa and Labour Card validity information.
  • MOHRE Offices: You can also visit a MOHRE office directly for offline verification. Follow the same procedure as at a Tas'heel service centre, presenting your Labour Card or passport to a representative for assistance.

Risks of Working Without an Work Permit / Labour Card 

There are several penalties for working without labour card in UAE. There are risks and consequences that certainly can negatively impact your life and career in the country. Recognizing the importance of a work permit in UAE is vital. 

Legal Consequences 

Individuals caught working without a visa can face hefty fines, ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 50,000. In some cases, imprisonment for up to six months can be imposed for working illegally. Individuals working without a work permit in UAE can face deportation and possibly a ban on re-entering the country for a specified period. The employee may be blacklisted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), making it difficult to obtain a legal work permit in the future.

Lack of Employment 

Working without a permit creates a vicious cycle of limited employment opportunities and further challenges in finding legal and sustainable work. Employers are hesitant to hire individuals without the necessary documentation, fearing legal repercussions and potential fines. This drastically reduces your options and makes it challenging to find suitable employment. Indeed, you become more vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Visa Overstay Fines 

Overstaying your visa while working without work permit in UAE can lead to significant financial penalties. The standard daily fine for overstaying any visa (visit, tourist, or residence) is AED 50. This fine accumulates for each day you remain in the UAE beyond your visa's validity. Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may also incur additional fines for violating immigration laws. These fines can range from AED 100 to AED 500 per day. In addition, when leaving the UAE after overstaying your visa, you will be required to pay an exit permit fee ranging from AED 250 to AED 350.

Difficulty in Opening Bank Accounts 

Most banks in the UAE prioritize security and compliance with regulations. in They typically require proof of income and legal employment and a valid work permit to open accounts for individuals. Working without visa in UAE significantly limits your banking options, making it difficult to access essential financial services.

Also, they can ask for salary statements, to assess your financial stability and verify your source of income. Working without a work permit makes it difficult to provide such documentation, hindering your ability to meet this requirement.

Limited Access to Healthcare 

Most health insurance plans in the UAE are tied to employment and require a valid work permit for enrollment. As a penalty for working without work permit in UAE, you cannot access the comprehensive healthcare benefits offered by these plans, leaving you vulnerable to potentially high medical expenses.

While public healthcare facilities in the UAE offer basic medical services, access for individuals without a valid work permit may be restricted or unavailable. This can lead to delays in receiving necessary treatment and potentially compromise your health.

Reputational Damage 

Engaging in illegal employment can damage your reputation and professional credibility. This can have detrimental long-term consequences for your career prospects. As a result, employers may lose trust in your reliability and professionalism if they discover you are working illegally. This can lead to termination of employment or difficulty finding future job opportunities. Securing positive references from previous employers becomes challenging if you have a history of working without a Labour Card. Consequently, this can hinder your ability to showcase your skills and experience to potential employers.

Regular Inspections 

Working without a valid Labour Card in the UAE puts you at risk of encountering regular inspections from various authorities. MOHRE inspectors conduct regular raids on workplaces to verify employee documentation and ensure compliance with labor laws. If caught working without permit in UAE, you face significant fines, deportation, and potential blacklisting.

General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) officials conduct inspections to check visa validity and immigration status. Working without a Labour Card is likely to lead to visa overstay fines and immediate deportation, for instance.

Local municipalities also conduct inspections to ensure businesses operate within legal frameworks. If they discover individuals working without proper documentation, they may report them to relevant authorities. These inspections can occur at any time, without prior notice, making it difficult to avoid detection.

Whistleblower Programs 

This program encourages employees to report illegal activities within their companies, including the employment of individuals without Labour Cards. The UAE has implemented various whistleblower programs, since it offers anonymity and protection to individuals who come forward. Authorities will investigate your claims and impose penalties for working without work permit, against companies violating labor laws.

Visa Amnesties 

Periodically, the UAE government offers visa amnesty programs that grant individuals residing illegally a chance to regularize their status and obtain legal residency. Visa amnesties provide a chance to avoid deportation and obtain legal residency in the UAE. Also, fines for overstaying visas may be waived or reduced during amnesty periods.

Is it Illegal to Work Without a Work Permit in the UAE? 

Yes, it is illegal to work without a work permit in the UAE. The UAE's labor laws strictly prohibit individuals from working without a valid work permit and Labour Card. Both employees and employers face legal consequences for violating this law.

The work permit system ensures that workers are offered fair wages, working conditions, and benefits as stipulated by UAE labor laws. Whereas, the UAE requires work permits, the government aims to protect workers from exploitation by unscrupulous employers who may offer unsafe working conditions, low wages, and inadequate benefits. Work permits help authorities track and manage the influx of foreign workers, ensuring they have the necessary skills and qualifications to work in the UAE.

As has been noted, working in the UAE can be a rewarding experience, offering promising career opportunities and a vibrant lifestyle. Understanding the ins and outs of the work permit system is crucial for securing legal employment within the country. By carefully researching, preparing the necessary documents, and seeking professional assistance, you can navigate the process successfully and embark on your exciting journey in the UAE.

Navigating the intricacies of immigration and labour law in the UAE can be complex and overwhelming. In this matter, we recommend you seek the right guidance and support on legal services, so your journey to a fulfilling career and rewarding life in this dynamic nation can be seamless. 

Contact us at our email [email protected] or through our website. We invite you to explore our insightful resources and schedule a consultation with our legal team.

Working Without a Work Permit in UAE_ Legal Consequences.jpg

Connect with lawyers & seek expert legal advice

Check out how we can offer this service to you.

All Posts

Post a question for free on our Legal Forum