Over the past years, I received messages from friends who were also interested on working in United Arab Emirates. Since it has always been a trend for Filipinos to come to the UAE on a visit visa and look for a job, I hope this post can help.
Four years ago, I left the Philippines with high hopes and big dreams. I was on a Visit Visa when I came here in Dubai. Way back then, it was the easiest way to find a job in the UAE since there were few companies that directly hire healthcare workers from the Philippines. I was lucky to have relatives in Dubai who took care of me while I was looking for a job. After 2 weeks of job hunting, I was finally called for interviews. I had 3 job offers during my 3rd week, I accepted the best one and I am still working with the same company until now.
Based on my story, everything seemed easy, but that was year 2008. Back then, there were fewer expatriates and Dubai's economy was on its peak. Thousands of OFWs in Dubai have different stories, some better than I have, some are worse. I want to share some facts and my thoughts about the Visit Visa.
- The rules in Dubai change frequently. The requirements to get a visit visa is one of them.
- The Philippine government consider this practice as illegal. Expect to be toughly interrogated by an airport personnel, especially at the passport control section.
- You will only get 30 or 60 days of stay in the country, you must find a job within that period.
- There is a big amount of money involved. Be ready to spend P100,000 or more for visa fees, plane tickets, bedspace rent in a flat, food and other daily needs.
- Healthcare workers, like nurses & med techs, must pass the exam given by the Health Authority (DHA for Dubai and HAAD for Abu Dhabi). Only license holders are allowed to practice their medical profession.
- Finding the right job is not easy, the competition is stiff. It is a great battle in job hunting since you will be competing with other nationalities and with people who already have work experience in the UAE.
- Most people who are on their last week of visa tend to accept any job offer that comes. Some of them are being shortchanged.
- Once you get a job, you need to exit the country in order to change your visa status from Visit to Employment. Common countries for exit are Oman and Kish Island in Iran. Processing and releasing of employment visa depends on your employer. Some are lucky to get their new visa within 2 days, while others wait for a week or more.
Though my husband and I were once on a visit visa, we never recommend it. We are very optimistic, but we heard sad stories from people who were not able to find a job, or settled for a job not in their field, or were stranded for more than a month in Oman or Kish. Those stories break our hearts.
The good news is that, companies are already hiring from the Philippines through POEA. Healthcare workers can now take the HAAD license exam in Manila. Though DHA exam is not yet offered, a company can still hire workers and have their exam scheduled upon arrival in Dubai. That simply means no illegal ways, no financial debt and no unemployed days in the UAE.