Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Jafza completes agreement to cut visa processing time to 24 hours or less

Working with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, free zone's move will benefit 150,000 workers in Dubai free zone

Enhanced visa services will benefit some 150,000 Jafza workers. Antonie Robertson/The National
Enhanced visa services will benefit some 150,000 Jafza workers. Antonie Robertson/The National

Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone signed a co-operation agreement with the emirate's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) to cut the time taken to process visas and related government transactions to 24 hours or less.

Under the agreement, the GDRFA will provide enhanced services to companies operating in Jafza and the National Industries Park, subsidiaries of Nasdaq Dubai-listed port operator DP World, via the newly established electronic link. The move is aimed at facilitating the more than 150,000 people working in over 7,500 Jafza-based companies, the free zone authority said on Monday.

"As home to tens of thousands of employees who need work and residence visas, Jafza constantly seeks to improve the support services required to help companies focus on their core business activities," said Sultan bin Sulayem, the group chairman and chief executive of DP World.

“The agreement represents a new phase of co-operation with the GDRFA and integrates business practices ... simplifying business processes results in increased efficiency and more productive companies and employees.”

The latest move follows sweeping reforms to the UAE's visa and labour insurance legislation, announced by the Cabinet last month.

Chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Cabinet approved eight decisions that seek to enhance the country's economic competitiveness, increase tourism and retain talented students.

The changes include doing away with bank guarantees for the recruitment of labour in the private sector, creating a Dh14 billion stimulus for the economy and lowering the cost of doing business in the country.


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The decisions affect travellers transiting in the UAE, private sector companies and students seeking employment.

The Cabinet approved the adoption of a "low-cost insurance" system as an alternative to the monetary guarantee provided by employers, which costs Dh3,000 per worker. In contrast, the insurance will be priced at Dh60 per year per employee. The insurance policy in the new system covers the workers’ end-of-service benefits, vacation allowance, overtime allowance, unpaid wages, return air ticket and cases of work injury, in which the insurance coverage amounts to Dh20,000 a person. The scheme is aimed at securing workers’ rights in the private sector and reducing the burden on employers, allowing businesses to recover about Dh14bn in guarantees, freeing up capital for other purposes such as reinvestment.

The Cabinet last month also announced sweeping changes to its residency system in which key workers will be offered visas of up to 10 years, to attract sought-after professionals. There are also plans to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of businesses outside free zones to spur foreign direct investment.

Of the latest visa system enhancements, Major General Mohamed Ahmed Al Marri, director general, GDRFA, said: “We aim to reinforce our partnership with Jafza to achieve the strategic vision of Dubai and to keep pace with the development of comprehensive and sustainable solutions. The signing is evidence of the confidence we have in Jafza for providing world-class services and competitive advantage.”

Updated: July 2, 2018 03:14 PM