Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Federal National Council calls for tightening of sponsorship rules in UAE

Abu Dhabi: The Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday proposed increasing the minimum salary requirement to sponsor families of expatriates in the UAE.

According to the proposal, the minimum salary required for an expatriate - without company accommodation - to sponsor a family should be Dh10,000 and an expatriate with company accommodation, Dh8,000. The FNC resumed its session yesterday after National Day and Eid holidays.

An ad-hoc committee of the House also suggested that family-visa applicants should be asked to submit bank statements of six months, detailing salary transfer.

In its first ever open session to discuss the demographic structure of the UAE since its establishment in 1972, the House also suggested that an only an expatriate with a minimum salary of Dh15,000 should be allowed to sponsor housemaids.

It also recommended increasing the annual fee for sponsoring a housemaid to Dh7,000.

According to a report worked out by the committee, there are 5.5 million foreign workers, including 3.1 million workers registered with the Ministry of Labour and 2.4 million registered with the Ministry of the Interior, while the total population was 6.3 million by the end of last year.

The legislature said the Labour Ministry issued 640,000 work permits over the first four months of this year, an increase of 100 per cent compared with the same period last year.

These include 525,000 work permits for individual workers and 115 group permits.

The House expected that 1.920 million permits would be issued by the end of this year, taking into account the visas issued by the Ministry of Interior.

The House was told that foreign workers account for 90 per cent of the total workforce in the UAE at the end of 2006.

Asian workers represented 87.1 of the labour force, while workers of other nationalities including Arabs account for 12.9 per cent.

An estimated 98.7 per cent are concentrated in the private sector, namely in the construction, agriculture, retail business, and also restaurants, hotels, fisheries, security and guarding and cleaning companies.