Maldives Work VISA Requirement for Foreigners

Maldives Work VISA: Guide

Maldives Work VISA: Guide

The beautiful country of Maldives is a very attractive destination for international job seekers. For a foreign national to work in the Maldives he or she needs a work visa. A work visa is the first essential ingredient for working in the Maldives. However, if one marries a Maldivian and holds a Maldives Marriage Visa then the above rule doesn’t apply.   

Any foreign national who wants to work in the Maldives must acquire a work permit, issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Employment and Social Security. The employers who want to employ foreign nationals in the Maldives have to apply for a work permit number prior to the prospective employees’ setting foot on Maldivian soil. It’s very easy and takes little time to acquire a work permit application in the Maldives. In fact, a work permit application takes just one to three working days to process. It must be noted that anyone who is granted an Employment Approval (EA)(previously known as ‘work permit’) is essentially granted a resident visa. All the employees who are granted with Employment Approval (EA) must arrive in the Maldives with a copy of the same and it also has to be declared in the embarkation form. All work permit holders in Maldives must always carry his or her Work Visa Card at all times. As compared to other South Asian countries Maldives follows a relatively liberal labour policy.  It is interesting to note that since 1990 there has been a significant surge in the migrant workforce in the Maldives. The five key sectors which provide employment to international job seekers are construction, community services, tourism, health, and education. The Employment Act essentially provides the legal framework to govern the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers in the Maldives. According to this, every foreign worker has to get prior employment approval before they enter the country. They also have to deposit a mandatory amount of money which is to be paid by the employer to the government. This deposit is used to deport foreign migrant workers who violate the Maldives Immigration Act and the Regulations under the Act. …The deposit rate reflects the economy class airfare and other expenses for accommodating a foreign worker until the worker is sent home, if and when the situation arises. Article 15 of the Maldives Immigration Act provides the provision of work visa. A work visa is essentially the permission to stay in the Maldives for the duration of the work permit granted to a foreign national who visits the country for the sole purpose of working. There is also something called Work Visa Regulation.  The Department of Immigration and Emigration issues this Work Visa Regulation (2010/R-7) under the Maldives Immigration Act (1/2007). This work visa regulation makes it mandatory for every foreign worker who sets foot on Maldivian soil for the purpose of employment to have a valid work visa. There are strict conditions set for entry of work visa holders. These conditions have to be fulfilled by every work visa holder: 

  • a passport with minimum six months validity,
  • a security deposit paid to DoIE 48 hours before arrival,
  •  truthful answers to questions posed by Immigration Officers
  • specification of the purpose of entry
  • an employment approval from the concerned authority with a copy transmitted to DoIE,
  • not prohibited from entry to the Maldives under article 4 of the regulation,
  • being over 18 years of age.
  • The following documents are necessary for a work visa:
  • completed visa application form (IM25),
  • passport standard photograph,
  • original of the employment contract or contract copy attested by a court or law firm,
  • original of the employment approval,
  • passport with 6 months validity,
  • MVR 250 for monthly visa fee,
  • original of the medical report,
  • MVR 50 for annual visa card fee,
  • Employer’s National Identity Card or Registration Certificate of Company,
  • Medical insurance documentation.

In Maldives the employment of foreign migrant workers is regulated by the Regulation on Employment of Foreign Workers in the Maldives (2011/R-22) that was published on official gazette on 26 May 2011. This regulation makes it mandatory for employers to apply for a foreign worker quota, pay a security deposit for the foreign migrant worker. The regulation also makes it mandatory for the employers to ensure that work permits are issued before a foreign migrant worker can commence work. The employers also have to apply for a work permit card within 15 days of arrival of the foreign migrant worker to the Maldives (Foreign migrant workers must show their work permit card to government officials when needed), and also a work visa within 30 days of arrival of the foreign migrant worker to the Maldives (A valid work visa allows employees to enter the country Repeatedly).  Therefore, an international job seeker must have a deep look at the bona fide of the employer. They must ensure that their employer is 100% percent genuine and is prepared to fulfill all the regulations mentioned above. They must be in constant touch with their prospective employers in order to make the immigration process smooth and hassle-free. The Regulation on Employment of Foreign Workers mandates every employer to receive their employee at the port of entry. The main regulatory organizations for foreign migrant workers in the Maldives are: 

  1. Department of Immigration and Emigration (DoIE)
  2. Labour Relations Authority (LRA)
  3. Employment Tribunal (ET)
  4. Maldives Police Services (MPS)
  5. Prosecutor General’s Office

Every foreign migrant worker must be in close touch and also have a good rapport with the above organizations for their benefit.

Employment Approval is essentially the permissions granted by The Department of Immigration and Emigration (DoIE) foreign nationals to work in the country. This Employment Approval has to be obtained by individuals prior to obtaining of Work Visa and prior to entering of Maldives. This Employment Approval, as already mentioned above, was previously known as ‘Work Permit’. 

There are many registered employment agencies in the Maldives. There are essentially three types of employment agencies which cater to the needs of international job seekers – 

  • approved local agencies operating in the Maldives, 
  • foreign agencies operating in migrant workers’ home countries, 
  • unlicensed ‘freelance’ agents working in the Maldives on a commission basis. 

How to apply for a Job in the Maldives

It is pertinent to note that most of the international workers recruited are initially recruited through recruitment agencies operating in their countries of origin, often with tie-ups with local recruitment agencies from the Maldives.

Tourism is the biggest sector in the Maldives which employs largest numbers foreign workers both skilled and unskilled. Both the groups are employed through employment agencies.  In case of skilled professional foreign migrant workers, HR departments of the tourist resorts/ hotels directly contact foreign recruitment agencies and pay a higher recruitment fee to the agents. The local recruitment agencies on the other hand mostly recruit unskilled foreign workers. It is very easy to find a job in Maldives for foreign workers. As already mentioned they can either seek the help of recruitment agencies or search for jobs online. Both are very useful. One can directly call the recruitment agencies and seek their guidance and advice. The list of top recruitment agencies in the Maldives is readily available on the internet. Job portals are also an attractive place for foreign workers to hunt for jobs in Maldives. One must also engage oneself in social networking groups (e.g Facebook, Twitter etc) of recruiters and job agencies to get real-time updates about vacancies.  Those who have the ability to speak several recognized foreign languages have an added advantage. Especially in the Tourism sector where hotels and resorts have to deal with tourists from around the world, to have an employee who can speak several international recognized languages gives them an edge over their rivals. Hence every international job seeker must ensure that they can speak proficiently a few internationally recognized languages. Besides the ability to speak multiple internationally recognized languages, foreign workers must also have a sound academic background, excellent local references and also must possess excellent communication skills. An international job seeker must also meticulously prepare his CV and before an interview, he or she must prepare well and also must do a brief research about local Maldivian culture, cuisine, landscape etc. One’s previous job experience also holds a huge value. Employers give a lot of credence to previous job experience. One must also keep in constant touch with one’s prospective employer (for job-related quires, new job opening etc) through emails etc. Checking an employer’s website regularly also keeps one updated about new job openings. One can also subscribe to email updates (pertaining to job openings) of recruitment agencies and employers.  In the travel and tourism sector, there are numerous job openings for young international graduates. Once an international graduate successfully gets employment he/ she can easily move up the ladder and reach top posts after getting the desired experience. Besides the travel and tourism sector, education and health sector also have huge job openings for foreign workers. Ministry of Education, Maldives is one of the best places to look job openings for foreign workers in the education sectors. International healthcare professionals ( e.g Doctors, nurses etc) are in great demand in the Maldives. Ministry of Health, Maldives’s website is one of the places to search for such jobs.