Virginia, US

Nov 06 2019

Oil and Gas Sector Employment Visa Process to be Streamlined; Approval Delays in Short Term

Iraq

At a Glance

  • Employers in the oil and gas sector in Iraq must now obtain employment visas directly from the Ministry of Interior, limiting the involvement of the Ministry of Oil (MOI) and the respective company that holds a contract for work with the government.
  • Under the new rule, the MOI will issue all Letters of Invitations (LOI) and foreign nationals will obtain their multiple-entry visa stickers through a consular post abroad or upon arrival in Iraq, depending on their nationality and individual eligibility factors.
  • Although the process change will likely reduce processing fees and times, currently, due to a lack of clarity in the new regulation, adjudicating agencies are holding employment visa applications which is causing delays in approvals.

The situation

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) in Iraq announced that effective immediately, employers in the oil and gas sector must obtain initial and renewal employment visas directly from the MOI, limiting the involvement of the Ministry of Oil and the respective company that holds a contract for work with the government (FOD).

A closer look

Details of the new rule are as follows:

  • New employment visa processes. Under the new rule, the MOI will issue all Letters of Invitation and foreign nationals will obtain their multiple-entry visa stickers through a consular post abroad or upon arrival in Iraq, depending on their nationality and individual eligibility.
  • Previous rule. The FOD held an integral role in the employment visa issuance process as contractors and company representatives operating in the oil and gas industry were not allowed to work directly with the MOI; instead they could only interface with FODs for inquiries and follow ups on any immigration-related matters. 

 

Impact

  • Reduced fees. The limited involvement of FODs and the MOI is expected to reduce the government fees employers must pay for employment visas in Iraq.
  • Shorter processing times. The new rule is expected to significantly reduce processing times for employment visas, allowing foreign nationals to commence work more quickly.
  • Adjudication delays. Due to a lack of clarity in the regulations and coordination issues between government agencies, adjudicating agencies are holding applications and delaying approvals, which may cause delayed start dates for some foreign nationals until these issues are resolved.

 

Looking ahead

As some details of the new regulations have not yet been released, the exact impact on processing times and document requirements are not yet clear. Fragomen will provide updates on the regulation as they become available.

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.