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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

My UAE residency visa has the wrong job title. Does that matter?

The Abu Dhabi resident is a project engineer, not a reinforcement fitter as stated on his visa

Widows and divorcees now have the option to apply for a one-year residency visa without the need for a sponsor, while students who have completed university or high school can also apply for residency for a year. Andrew Parsons / The National
Widows and divorcees now have the option to apply for a one-year residency visa without the need for a sponsor, while students who have completed university or high school can also apply for residency for a year. Andrew Parsons / The National

I received a job offer as a project engineer but when my visa was issued the title on it says reinforcement fitter. This is not the actual job I will be doing or will be paid for and it is a lower title that I was expecting to have. My contract says project engineer too. Will this cause me a problem when I am travelling or if I decide to change job? MA, Abu Dhabi

It is not uncommon for someone to have a stated profession on their UAE residency visa that does not match the actual job that they do. This can be for different reasons. If someone does not have a degree, or suitable higher education qualification that has been attested, not all job titles are available to them. The other reason is that only certain job titles are available and employers have to select an appropriate title from the list provided by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or use one that has been prearranged as part of their quota for certain positions. There can also be different titles used if someone is employed in a free zone or in the public sector.

This rarely causes a problem and I have come across people who are directors of companies and have a job title on their visa of sales clerk. The only time a person is really likely to have an issue is if they require a visa to travel to some countries for work reasons and have a passport that does not permit them to get a visa on arrival. A more junior title can cause issues in some cases.

If a future employer has a concern with the title in a visa, such that they are offering a lower salary, this can be over-ridden via a letter from your previous employer confirming the actual role undertaken.

I was told by my new company to get a good conduct certificate, something I was not aware of when I first made my application. I worked in Dubai from 2013 to 2015 without any criminal record and came back this January in search of a new job before this law was implemented. Do I still have to get this certificate if I was in the country before it was required? Also, can I apply for this good conduct certificate here or I should go back to my country to do it? IF, Dubai

This new rule, announced in early January this year, came into effect on February 4 and there have been a number of clarifications to the initial requirements. People who are already working in the UAE will not need the certificate to move to another job but anyone moving to the country to take up employment must now supply a ‘good conduct and behaviour certificate’ covering the last five years at the time their employment visa application is made. The date they entered the UAE to look for employment will not make a difference to the requirements. There is an exception for domestic workers from India or The Philippines as they do not need to provide certificates.

The certificates should be obtained from the individual's home country, or the country of their residency for the last five years. If someone has lived in more than one country then multiple certificates are required. The certificates must also be certified by the UAE's embassies or consulates in the relevant country or through the attestation centre of the customer happiness centres of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In this particular case, IF will need to provide a certificate of good conduct from his home country and is also likely to need one from Dubai Police to account for his time in the UAE over the past five years.

I have a residence visa and am currently working in education. What support as an expat can I get from the government as I am now the sole breadwinner and have to support my three children? My youngest daughter started university this year and I have to pay all of her fees. My eldest daughter is staying with me and is struggling to find work. Their father went back to our home country and left us. GR, Dubai

The UAE government offers a number of welfare benefits to UAE nationals but does not provide social assistance to expats who are expected to support themselves through employment. We do not pay income tax in the UAE, so no welfare benefits are provided to expats.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.