Good Conduct and Behaviour Certificate will need to be secured from police forces or authorities in home countries
UAE's new security checks for expats will ensure a safer Emirates, FNC member says
Strict new security checks that will require every expat to produce a document proving they do not have a criminal offence will help to safeguard the country's national security, a Federal National Council member said.
All residents seeking a new work visa from February 4 will need to secure a Good Conduct and Behaviour Certificate.
The move was outlined in a Cabinet resolution reported by state news agency Wam.
The committee managing the process said the checks are part of the UAE Government’s efforts to create a more secure community.
In most cases the document would be obtained from a police force or government authority in the expat's home country, or from the country they have lived within the past five years.
For example, individual police forces in the United States supply documents stating the applicant has never been convicted of a crime nor has a warrant out for their arrest.
In the United Kingdom, the National Police Chiefs' Council provides citizens with similar proof that they can give to an employer or immigration department.
That document would then be attested by the UAE embassy in that country, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE, Wam reported.
Marriage certificates and education qualifications are currently certified in the same way.
At present, some public sector authorities and private companies in the UAE ask for such a document, but it has not needed to secure a visa. Countries including Australia, Belgium and Canada already ask for these.
Sponsored family members and tourists do not have to present the certificate.
Long-term residents of the UAE seeking a new visa can apply to Dubai Police or Abu Dhabi Police for a certificate.
“I am very happy that this decree has come out and will come into action next month, because we want the quality of the workforce to add value to the country, not to burden the security forces and courts,” said Hamad Al Rohoumi, the Federal National Council member for Dubai who first raised the issue with the labour minister last year.
“We normally welcome everyone, but not anyone with a problematic background.”
He referred to the case of Nedal Issa Abdullah, 50, a Jordanian, who was executed in November for kidnapping, raping, and strangling eight-year-old Obaida Al Aqrabawi in May 2016.
After his arrest for a murder that shocked the nation, it emerged that he was wanted in Jordan for other crimes.
"He was wanted by the authorities in his country, and if we had this procedure in place he would not have come here anyway and this case would not have occurred," Mr Al Rohoumi said.
He said that the checks would cover all expats, regardless of job type or salary.
“A criminal could be a senior manager or a labourer. Just like we conduct a medical test for everyone, this is even more important to be applied to all," he he said.
“Someone could be recruiting a drug dealer, or a thief or a killer – it is important to make sure that everyone is checked for a disease and for a criminal history - I don’t see any inconvenience in that.”
Milos Perisic, the Serbian ambassador to the UAE, said the request from its citizens has become relatively common.
There are two types of certificates issued from the Serbian authorities; one from the court confirming that the person has not been convicted, and another from the police confirming that there has been no arrest warrant issued against him or her.
The process, he said, takes around one month, it starts by the person applying through the embassy. Once the request has been submitted, the embassy refers it to the ministry of foreign affairs in Serbia, and they refer it to the relevant court and interior ministry. Once both documents have been issued they are sent back to the foreign ministry and back to the embassy.
“As I heard from their side it is very easy (to issue the certificates). I think it costs around Dh150," he said.
Kapil Raj, Second Secretary at the Indian Embassy, which represents the UAE's largest expat population, said the process is likely to make recruitment for some people slower, but unlikely to put law abiding expats off.
“I personally feel that if somebody is given a good offer he can perhaps wait for this formality to be over and then join - nobody would like to miss a good opportunity in career advancement just for a piece of paper," he said.