Nov 13 2017

Employment Sponsorship Transfer Process Restricted

United Arab Emirates

Executive Summary

Effective immediately, foreign nationals seeking to transfer companies in the same free trade zone and their new employer are subject to more requirements that will prolong the transfer process and impact the residence permit validity period.

The situation

The requirements for employment sponsorship transfer companies in the same free trade zone have been restricted.

  • New residence permit validity. Foreign nationals will be issued a new employment residence permit with a validity period only up to three years. Previously, the visa was issued for the remainder of the initial visa’s validity, even if this would be longer than three years.
    • Impact: This will restrict how long the foreign national can stay in the United Arab Emirates under the initial residence permit.

  • New requirements for foreign nationals. Transferees must undergo a medical examination and obtain a new Emirates ID card prior to their transfer.
  • New requirements for employers. The new employer must obtain formal approval from the previous employer to release the transferee.
    • Impact. The entire employment sponsorship transfer process will take longer.



Employment sponsorship transfer within a free trade zone, often referred to as ‘internal transfer’, was the quickest way for foreign nationals to change employers and obtain a new visa. The process was also exempt from security screening, making it desirable for applicants whose profile would trigger a heightened security screening, for example, due to their nationality.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to