Expatriate workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can now change their jobs without having to spend a year with their original sponsor, but at a high cost.
Humaid Bin Deemas, Assistant undersecretary in the UAE Ministry of Labour, told the Gulf News that the government has done away with the rule of workers getting an exemption from his ministry before leaving the employment of the original sponsor within one year.
"However, the applicant will have to pay a fee of 500 dirhams ($135) for each month remaining to complete this mandatory period. The procedure could be done at the customer service counter at the ministry and applicants no longer need to approach the minister's office," Bin Deemas told the newspaper.
According to Khalil Khoury, director of the work permits department, apart from the monthly fee of 500 dirhams, a worker changing sponsorship will have to pay an additional approval fee of up to 5,000 dirhams depending on his or her qualification.
A person with a postgraduate degree would have to pay 1,500 dirhams, a graduate will have to shell out 3,000 dirhams for approval while a person with low educational qualification will have to pay 5,000 dirhams for the same, Khoury said. The cost of approval of internal work permit to move to another company owned by the same sponsor is 500 dirhams.
According to the law here, an expatriate worker can change sponsorship provided the worker has a valid labour card and spent a specific period of time with the original sponsor.
The worker also must get the consent of both the original and new sponsors before changing jobs. The original sponsor should sign in the application for cancellation, which means the consent of the sponsor is essential to facilitate the transfer process.
According to Khoury, very few people are using this facility because of the high costs involved.
"We have not received many requests to facilitate sponsorship transfer because of the high costs involved. Labourers and workers in the low-income group would find it hard to shell out so much money for this purpose," he said.
There are around 1.4 million Indians in this Gulf nation, many engaged as contract workers with the booming construction industry here.