Virginia, US

Oct 01 2019

New Mandatory Work Permit Category for Skilled Workers Requires High Government Fee

Jordan

At a Glance:

  • The Ministry of Labour in Jordan created a mandatory new work authorization route for highly-skilled foreign workers that requires a higher government fee than regular work permits.
  • Employers can hire foreign nationals in skilled professions when there is no qualified Jordanian job seeker available on the labour market. The government has not yet clarified how it will determine this and has not released a list of skilled professions that will be subject to the new process.
  • Until there is a list of affected professions, the Ministry of Labour will continue to exercise a high degree of discretion when adjudicating such applications.

The situation

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) in Jordan has issued new regulations that among other changes, create a mandatory new work authorization route for highly-skilled foreign workers.   

A closer look

  • Who must apply for the skilled work permit. Foreign nationals must apply for the skilled work permit when there is no qualified Jordanian job seeker available on the labour market, particularly when:
    • there is a shortage of local workers with in-demand skills (the government is expected to release the list of shortage occupations in the coming weeks);
    • the applicant possesses rare expertise and knowledge that can be transferred to the Jordanian labour market; or
    • the employment of foreign skilled workers will contribute to the economy by generating job opportunities for Jordanians.
  • Validity period. The skilled work permit is valid for up to one year with the possibility of renewal.
  • Higher government fee. The government fee for new category of work permit for skilled workers is JOD 2,500 (USD 3,526), significantly higher than the recently-standardized fee of JOD 500 (USD 705) for most other work permits, and much higher than the fee now applicable in free zones (JOD 275 per permit - approximately USD 388).
  • Unknown information. The government has not yet clarified how it will determine that an employer can hire foreign workers in a skilled profession and has not yet issued a list of professions affected by the new rule. It is also unclear whether the government is applying the new standards to pending work permit applications.
  • Unskilled workers. Foreign workers with job titles that are not considered skilled are still eligible for a regular work permit, which does not require proof of rare knowledge, in-demand skills or other special considerations.
  • Non-renewal fine. The MOL will impose a fine of 5% of the work permit fee on employers who fail to renew work permits for foreign workers within 90 days of the permit expiry date.

 

Impact

  • Inability to renew regular permit. Foreign nationals in professions that the MOL considers skilled will not be allowed to renew their regular work permits. Instead, their employers will have to apply for a new work permit under the new category and will be subject to the higher fee.
  • Discretionary determinations. Until there is a list of affected professions, the MOL will continue to exercise a high degree of discretion when adjudicating such applications.
  • Delays ahead. Application processing delays can be expected for those who qualify under the new skilled work permit category, since many related rules have not yet been finalized.

 

Background

The new skilled work permit has likely been introduced to counterbalance the growing unemployment rate among Jordanians, especially in highly-skilled professions. By creating a higher government fee and restricting eligibility for such professions, the government seeks to increase the local labour force in certain skilled occupations.

Looking ahead

Fragomen will report when the government has clarified how it will determine the factors for this category and when the new shortage occupations list is released, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks.

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 mideast@fragomen.com.