When Dubai resident, Latha Sreedharan’s husband Sanjive lost his job, her world came crashing down. Or so she was made to believe.
With a two-year-old-boy and another on the way, Latha remembers being very apprehensive, even fearful of how the family could cope with miscellaneous expenses. Working as a nurse for a private hospital in Dubai, Latha was aware of the family’s financial limitations, and knew they always stood a better chance at bringing up their children as a working couple.
“The prevailing job market (Sanjive is a civil engineer) made it very difficult for Sanjive to find a job quickly enough. With just a two-month extension from his previous employer to search and find a new job, time was quickly running out for us,” recollects Latha, who was in the UAE on her husband’s visa. Help came in the form of a relative, who suggested Sanjive consider being sponsored by his wife to buy time while searching for a job online and through other channels.
A work permit, issued as part of a new law passed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation now allowed men being sponsored by a family member to work in the UAE as well.
“It was the best probable solution at the time, even though we both initially decided that the decision for Sanjive to be sponsored by me would only be temporary,” says Latha. Once Sanjive managed a job, they would revert to the earlier status quo.
It’s now been two months since Sanjive managed a placement at a construction firm, however, he is happy staying in Dubai on his wife’s visa.
Stories of work couples like the Sreedharans are expected to grow as awareness on the new work permit spreads.
In a news report, Saif Ahmed Al Suwaidi, the ministry’s undersecretary for Human Resources Affairs, said: “The resolution aims to provide stability to families by enabling them to increase their source of monthly income.”
R.B. (name withheld on request), an Indian expat who happens to be a software engineer in Dubai, wanted to get her husband down to the emirate from Mumbai in India after their marriage. “Soon after marriage, I wanted him to join me here in Dubai on a residence visa. I got the visa within the expected time, it made our life easy,” says R.B. “I consider my husband to be my support system and it was comforting having him near me, without harbouring any fear of him leaving the country after three months. He could look for jobs without any stress.”
R.B.’s husband is currently on his company visa, but the new ruling helped the couple stay together in Dubai instead of being forced to stay separately in two cities.
Ruling a game changer
Dr Jamil Ahmed, Founder and Managing Director Prime Health Care Group, said, while speaking to Gulf News, “This move to have husbands on dependent visas to work is a master stroke from the UAE government.”
Many married women who happen to be doctors, nurses or lab technicians sponsor their husbands, who had good qualifications, but could not work in the UAE because of visa restrictions, says Dr Ahmed. The new rule now allows employers to tap into this talent pool. “It is cost effective,” says Dr Ahmed, “less time consuming and works towards happiness of families who can look forward to new economic stability in their homes.”
Good news for female teaching staff
A lot of female teaching staff in the UAE happen to sponsor their husbands, and the ruling has been very helpful for them as well.
Moneesha Surendranath got a placement at a Dubai-based private school four months back, while working in Mangalore, India. She decided to bring her husband Dilip in on a visit visa so he could search for a job in the emirate. “The new ruling now allows him to stay on in Dubai and search for a job and work here as well under my sponsorship while contributing to the family income,” says Moneesha, mother to a five-year-old who stays with his grandparents in India.
Moneesha and Dilip have already planned to bring their child to the UAE once Dilip gets a placement. “The government has now streamlined the process to make things much easier for working couples to stay in the UAE and raise a family. It’s finding a job that is the tough part,” says Dilip.
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Residence Visa: How to sponsor your husband or wife in Dubai