Work Permits and Work Visas in the Maldives : Everything You Must Know [2023]

maldives work visa 2023

Saturday, 30th September 2023

Any foreigner who wish to work in Maldives generally he needs to have a Work Permit called Employment Approval in the past and now is called Work Permit Entry Pass. Generally the employer sponsor this EA and do the necessary steps to hire the foreigner staff. This document is issued electronically by Ministry of Economic development of Maldives and usually is valid for 1 year.

1- About Work Permit Entry Pass

Foreigners can work in the Maldives with authorization from the Permits and Foreign Employment Division (PFED) of Maldives Immigration MI. MI issues a Work Visa (WV) based on the Employment Approval (EA) provided by PFED, which is a written permission for expatriates to work in the Maldives. It’s the employee’s responsibility to ensure the approval of their EA before coming to the Maldives for employment.

To apply for an EA, the employer should possess a valid Quota for a duration of 3 months. The EA issuance process comprises three stages: Online Preliminary Check, Verification, and Approval. EA is granted upon successful completion of these stages, including the required deposit payment.

maldives visas and work permit 2023

Employees must commence their employment in the Maldives within 90 days from the EA issuance date. However, MI retains the right to prevent employees on the screening hit list from entering the Maldives, even after EA issuance. Employers are obligated to pay the employee’s WV and submit the WV application within 15 days of the employee’s arrival in the Maldives.

EA is issued for the following categories:

  1. Commercial Category
  2. Government Category
  3. Domestic Category
maldives visas and work permit 2023

ISSUING OF NEW EMPLOYMENT APPROVALS

1 Commercial Category

Under this category, EA is requested by companies or individuals to employ a foreigner for a commercial purpose. This includes both professional and non-professional occupations.
Documents required for EA under commercial category

  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 01 year).
  • Passport size digital photo of the employee (white background).
  • Letter of Appointment including all the information about the employer, employee and the employment (color copy)
  • Relevant educational/professional certificate(s) of the employee (for professional occupations).

2 Government Category

Under this category, EA is requested by government authorities or government shared companies. This includes both professional and non-professional occupations and requires a Quota to apply for EA.
Documents required for EA under government category

  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 01 year)
  • Passport size digital photo of the employee (white background)
  • Letter of Appointment including all the information about the employer, employee and the employment (color copy)
  • Relevant educational/professional certificate(s) of the employee (for professional occupations)

3 Domestic Category

Under this category, EA is requested by individuals (locals and professional category EA holders) for the purpose of domestic works. This is a non-professional category which does not require a Quota. EA issuing occupations for Domestic Category are as follows:

  1. Domestic Servant/House Maid
  2. Attendant
  3. Driver

 
Documents required for EA under Domestic Category

  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 01 year)
  • Passport size digital photo of the employee (white background)
  • Letter of Appointment including all the information about the employer, employee and the employment 9color copy)
  • Employee’s medical report in English, acquired from home country (color copy)
  • Employee’s Police report in English, acquired from home country (color copy)
  • Rahvehinge registry of the employer (OR) rent agreement (color copy)
  • Floor Plan of the house (employee’s place of stay should be defined and signed by two witnesses OR approved from a government authority)
  • Letter issued by the owner of the residence (if employer living separately)
  • If applying for an attendant medical certificate (government authorized) of the patient
  • Maldives government recognized Medical Certificate issued to the patient (if applying for an Attendant)
  • Employee’s driving license color copy (if applying for a driver)
  • Employer’s vehicle registration color copy (if applying for a driver)

OTHER SERVICES

“My Online Applications” of the X-pat Online System’s (XPAT) user portal.

  1. Add new passport
  2. EA extension
  3. Site change
  4. Occupation change
  5. Employer change
  6. EA cancellation

The above mentioned services will be processed after 3 stages; Add, Verification and Approval. Standard processing time is working 7 days.

  1. Add New Passport

If the employee’s passport is changed after employee arrived to Maldives, the employer must submit for passport change through “My Online Applications”. Once the application is submitted, old passport details (passport number, issued date, expiry date) in the EA will be replaced with the new passport details.
Documents required for Passport Change Applications

  • New passport Bio data page (color copy)
  • New passport’s observation page with the old passport number
  1. EA Extension

All the EA’s issued from XPAT are issued with an expiry date. Application for EA extension should be submitted (Three) 3 months before the expiry of EA. Applied EA will be extended for 1 year; however, if the quota expires before (one) 1 year, the EA will be extended up to quota expiry.
Documents required for EA Extend Duration

  • Filled application form for EA extension
  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 7 months)
  1. Site Change (SC)

If an employee working in Maldives transfers to a new work site of the same employer, the employer must submit for SC through “My Online Applications”. In order to cancel the new Work Site must have a valid quota. Site cannot be changed from commercial to domestic category and vice versa.
Documents required for Site Change

  • Filled application form for EA (Site Change)
  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 7 months)
  • Employment Contract (color copy)
  1. Occupation Change(OC)

If an employee working in Maldives relocated to a new occupation, the employer must submit for OC through “My Online Applications”. To cancel the employee should have a valid EA. In order to change occupation the employee should have worked for more than one (1) year in the Maldives.
Documents required for Occupation Change

  • Filled application form (Occupation Change)
  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 7 months)
  • Employment Contract (color copy)
  • Relevant educational/professional certificate(s) of the employee (if changing from non-professional occupation to a professional occupation)
  1. Employer Change (EC)

If an employee working in the Maldives transfers to a new employer, the new employer must submit for EC through “My Online Applications”. Visa fee must be paid 15 days prior to application submission date and EA must be valid in order to change to a new employer. Likewise, to cancel EA the employee should have worked for more than one (1) year in the Maldives.
Documents required for Employer Change

  • Filled application form (Employer Change)
  • Employee’s passport Bio data page color copy (valid for more than 01 year)
  • Passport size digital photo of the employee (white background)
  • Employment contract between new employer and the employee
  • Relevant educational/professional certificate(s) of the employee (if changing from non-professional occupation to a professional occupation)
  • Color copy of Rahvehinge registry of the employer (OR) if the place is rented, then rent agreement (if domestic category)
  • Employee’s driving license color copy (if applying for a Domestic Driver)
  • Employer’s vehicle registration color copy (if applying for a Domestic Driver)
  • Maldives government recognized Medical Certificate issued to the patient (if applying for an Attendant)
  1. Employment Approval Cancellation

Cancellation for EA should be submitted through “My Online Applications”. EA can be cancelled under the following situations:

  1. The employee is unable to come for employment
  2. The employee departed from Maldives after employment contract completion or resignation
  3. The employee wants to change from Work Visa to Marriage Visa
  4. The employee died working in Maldives

Documents to be submitted for EA Cancellation

  • Filled application form for EA cancellation
  • Marriage certificate color copy (changing from Work Visa to Marriage Visa)
  • Color copy of employee’s death certificate (employee died working in Maldives)
maldives visas and work permit 2023
Maldives Immigration Officers at MLE International Airport

NOTE:

  • Employment Contract completed or resigned EA will be cancelled only after the employee departs from the Maldives.
  • EA of escaped or lost employees will not be cancelled unless employee departs from the Maldives
  • Visa fee must be paid till the departure date in order to process an EA cancellation application.
  • Employees changing from WV to marriage visa, fee must be paid till the date of marriage / marriage registration consistent with the laws of Maldives
  • EA of a diseased employee will be cancelled after the visa fee is paid till the date of death
  • It is not required to pay visa fee if the employee departs from the Maldives within 15 days of arrival to Maldives.

2 – About Maldives Work Visas

After the employee’s arrival in the Maldives, the immigration authorities at the airport provide a 15-day window for them to apply for their Work Visa and have the Work Visa sticker affixed to their passport. The process of obtaining the Work Visa is a joint responsibility of both the employee and the employer. Additionally, a mandatory medical health screening must be conducted at a designated clinic in the Maldives, along with fulfilling other specified requirements.

Work Visa

Work Visa is the permit issued for a foreigner to stay in Maldives for the purpose of employment.

A person traveling to the Maldives for the purpose of employment will be granted 15 days from the date of arrival. In order to acquire this pre period, the foreign national should possess a valid Work Permit issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, which does not exceed 90 days from date of issue. Moreover, the foreign national should provide the same passport on arrival for which the Work Permit was issued. Re-entry on Work Permit without obtaining a visa is possible unless the Work Permit remains valid (within 90 days from date of issue).

Work Visa process include a medical check-up which needs to be completed from a permitted hospital/clinic, and health insurance should cover within this period to apply for work visa.

The consequences for not obtaining visa within the mentioned period results in penalization under the Immigration Act 1/2007, which include deportation from Maldives for overstaying.

The issuance of Work Visa service is decentralized and is provided from Male’ (Visa Division, Star Cloud, 8th Floor, Majeedhee Magu), Hithadhoo Immigration Office (Addu City), Fuvahmulah Immigration Office (Fuvahmulah City) and Kulhudhuffushi Immigration Office (H. Dh. Kulhudhuffushi).

Entry Requirements for Work Visa

  1. A machine readable (MRZ) Passport Bio-data page copy of the applicant (At least 1 Year validity).
  2. A valid Work Permit not exceeding 90 days from date of arrival.
  3. Traveler should provide the same passport mention in the Work Permit.
  4. Traveller Declaration, submitted within 72 hours prior to departure from the first port of embarkation. You may submit the form electronically via IMUGA.
  5. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if applicable.

Applying for Work Visa

The following documents are required to apply for Work Visa and the employer or a representative of the employer shall submit the application for visa.

  1. Passport of the employee
  2. Copy of the Work Permit
  3. Passport size photo (Photo shall comply with Maldives Immigration passport photo standard and must be a recent photo)
  4. Medical health screening report of the employee issued from a Hospital/Clinic authorized by the relevant government authority
  5. Work Visa Application Submission Receipt (IM29)

Maldives Immigration introduced online Work Visa service since 17th November 2019. Hence, the employers and recruitment agencies shall apply for the service through Xpat Online System.

With this enhancement, visa will be processed within 48 hours of submission. When the application is processed, applicants can request for an online appointment to submit the passport(s) for visa. Visa process will take 3 working days and the applicant will be notified when the passport is ready for collection. An online appointment shall be fixed once again for passport(s) collection.

Note:

  • Expatriate should be registered under the “Expatriate Medical Insurance” issued from Allied Insurance Company, before applying for visa.
  • Work Visa fee should be paid for a minimum of 3 months from the date of submission of the application.
  • The existing Employees while returning to Maldives after been abroad must make sure their visa is valid or at least the Work Permit should remain valid.

3 – Maldives Work Permit Application Gets Easier [October 2023 Updates]

The ‘Regulation on Employment of Expatriate Workers,’ effective in October 2023, has brought about substantial modifications in the process of employing expatriate workers in the Maldives. This newly enacted regulation has replaced the previous version and has a direct impact on the procedure for obtaining work permits.

Both the previous and current regulations stipulate that foreign employment in the Maldives necessitates the acquisition of a work permit from the Ministry of Economic Development and a work visa from Maldives Immigration. This requirement remains unchanged and is designed to ensure adherence to the law.

Under the new regulation, the responsibility for handling work permit and work visa applications has shifted to employers or their chosen representatives. This shift aims to simplify and enhance the application process.

According to the new regulation, employers must now submit work permit applications and related requests through the Ministry’s online platform, the ‘Xpat System’. Employers also have the option to designate representatives to submit applications on their behalf.

The regulation specifies eligible representatives for employers, including:

  1. A Maldivian employee of the employer.
  2. A licensed employment agency with a Category A or Category B License.
  3. An individual representative appointed by an individual employer.

These changes offer flexibility to employers and align with the government’s goal of accommodating diverse employment needs.

Additionally, the new regulation introduces two access levels within the Xpat System for entities and their representatives:

  1. View User: These users can monitor work permit applications submitted through the Xpat System, playing a supervisory role in the application process.
  2. Active User: Active users are authorized to submit work permit applications, streamlining the process and expediting work permit issuance.

Individuals seeking active user status in the Xpat System must obtain a license from the Ministry after completing a ‘Certificate of Employment Intermediary Course.’ The Ministry has not specified the rollout timing of this course.

The ‘Regulation on Employment of Expatriate Workers,’ effective from October 2023, marks a significant transformation in the management of foreign labor in the Maldives. The government’s objective is to facilitate foreign employment while upholding regulatory compliance and transparency through the simplification of work permit and visa application processes. These changes have implications for employers and expatriate workers in the Maldives, promising a more efficient and well-regulated system for all parties involved.

4 – About Service Charge in the Maldives

Before you accept any job offer in the Maldives from one of the over 180 resorts and before they proceed with your visa application, it’s essential to check the average service charge policy of the resort. In the Maldives, the service charge holds significant importance, often outweighing the basic salary and other allowances. It’s worth noting that every service provided by businesses operating in the Maldives’ tourism industry must levy a service charge of not less than 10%, which is distributed equally among all employees in USD, in addition to their regular salary. Understanding and considering this aspect can be crucial when evaluating job opportunities in the Maldives.

You can always check the monthly service charge of different Resorts in this link here.

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