Labor Certification

What is a Labor Certification?

Labor certification is a process that verifies the absence of qualified workers for a specific job position being offered. If qualified workers are available, the employer is typically required to hire them instead of seeking foreign workers. 

This process is essential for employers wishing to hire foreign nationals for permanent positions in the country. It is the most common employment-based method for obtaining a worker's permit or approval, demonstrating that there is a genuine need for foreign labor in specific roles. 

For instance, if a UAE-based technology company needs to hire a specialized software engineer with a rare skill set, they may go through the labor certification process to demonstrate that they couldn't find a qualified UAE candidate for the position.

Labor certification requirements in the Middle East countries:

In Middle Eastern countries, labor certification requirements can vary, but some common documents and regulations include:

  • Degree or qualification certificate: foreign workers often need to provide proof of their educational qualifications or relevant certifications for their field of work.
  • Criminal record check: this may be required as part of the visa application process to ensure the applicant has no criminal record that would disqualify them from working in the country.
  • Visa requirements: depending on the specific Middle Eastern country, there may be visa requirements for foreign workers. Some countries may have specific visa types for different categories of workers, such as skilled professionals, laborers, or domestic workers.
  • Compliance with labor laws: workers are expected to adhere to the labor laws of their respective country. For example, forced labor is prohibited, and there are usually regulations against employing individuals below a certain age.
  • Employment relationship: once the employment relationship is terminated, foreign workers may be required to leave the country promptly.

How long does the labor certification process take?

The duration of the labor certification process can vary widely, but it typically takes several months to a year to complete. 

What are the steps involved in labor certification?

The steps include preparing a job description, conducting recruitment efforts, filing the labor certification application, and once approved, filing the immigrant visa petition.

What is the difference between labor certification and a work visa?

Labor certification is a process employers go through to demonstrate the need for a foreign worker, while a work visa is an authorization granted to the foreign worker to legally work in the country.

Is there a labor certification process in the UAE or Saudi Arabia?

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have their processes for employers to hire foreign workers. These processes involve obtaining various permits and approvals.

What are the key requirements for hiring foreign workers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

Employers in both countries typically need to demonstrate that they cannot find qualified local candidates to fill specific positions before they can hire foreign workers.


Labor certification is a critical process for employers seeking to hire foreign workers in situations where there is a demonstrated shortage of available candidates. It involves a series of steps and documentation to prove the necessity of hiring a foreign worker. 

For countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia to regulate the hiring of foreign nationals, understanding and adhering to labor certification requirements is essential for employers looking to bring international talent into their organizations.

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