The process of acquiring a work permit in Egypt can be complicated, but most foreigners must have secured a job long before arriving to Egypt and their employer has to take care of the bulk of the paperwork involved in applying for a work permit. The process can take up to six months.
For those who have decided to move to Egypt without a firm job offer, the process of obtaining a Work Permit (WP) is slightly more complicated. While it is possible to get a work permit and employment from within the country, the process is more difficult.
The work permit is issued for one year or less, foreigners wishing to stay longer than three months should apply for an entry visa at least three months prior to arrival to Egypt. The required paperwork submitted for an entry visa changes often and is best handled by an agency or through the hiring company. The length and cost of obtaining an entry visa changes depending on the applicant’s nationality and type of entry visa required.
Foreigners can acquire the work permit application form from the Ministry of Manpower and Training Office in Cairo. For those foreigners that haven’t arrived yet to Egypt, their employers can get the form for them. In addition to this form, applicants will have to provide numerous documents to support their application.
Foreigners have to pay a registration fee which has been increased according to the New Decree Number 305 for the year 2015 issued by the Minister of Manpower and Immigration Nahed Ashry on rules and regulations of issuing work permits for foreigners in Egypt.
According to this Decree, the work permit can be issued for a year or less, following the payment of fees estimated at 3,000 Egyptian Pounds per year, and the renewals starting from the fourth to the sixth years would cost 5,000 Egyptian Pounds for each year.
Fees will then increase by 1,000 Egyptian Pounds, starting from year seven and for every following year with a maximum limit of 12,000 Egyptian Pounds.
Also, foreigners are prohibited from working in Egypt without having a work permit issued from the Ministry of Manpower and Migration, as stipulated by the decree.
The decree also highlighted that the number of foreigners working in a company cannot exceed 10% of the total number of workers. The ministry also prohibited foreigners from working in a number of professions in Egypt, including tourist guidance, exports and imports companies.
This increase in the fees has a negative impact on the fields of work in Egypt since companies appoint a foreign worker as he is likely to have tacit knowledge of global operations and help the local employees to identify and meet the company’s objectives. They are the means of applying the strategic control over the institution. They make the local employee to follow the same culture, help the local employees and give them the opportunity to control and coordinate the work.
Also, foreign highly qualified employees improve the business performance, help in reducing risks and technical problems. Moreover, they are very helpful in developing good relations with the customers and suppliers. They are not only used for coordination but also for the knowledge transfer, improving business relation to dominate on the international market.
Since Egypt is part of the free market economy, the increase of fees for obtainment of work permit as well as applying strict rules, will lead to decrease of the number of foreign employees which in turn will have a significant impact on businesses established in Egypt such as in the field of tourism, oil and gas, multinational organizations etc.
Since Egypt’s direction of aimed at foreign direct investment and attraction of foreign businesses, the regulation that has been promulgated might pose an obstacle. From the experience in the law field, the first question asked by a foreign investor when establishing his business in Egypt is: “How many foreigners can I hire in order to ensure proper operations of my business and eliminate risks?”, “Can I hire a foreign manager?”, “Can I hire a foreign expert?”…Now, the answers to these questions have become very difficult.
Setting aside the financial aspect of the matter, which is a logical step to take, the question rises in the procedural side, whereby, certain facilitation and release of restrictions to certain nationalities shall be provided in order to implement the strategic plan of stimulating foreign investment. A clear example here would be a strategic development of bilateral relationships between Egypt and Russia, where Russian citizens as well as investors are not encouraged to proceed with the business so long as Russian citizenship remains in the ‘Restricted list’. Therefore, for example, for a Russian investor to incorporate a company, the process prior to incorporation named Security Check can take up to and more than 120 days.
Following the 3 years’ of recession, Egypt is now moving on the right track of economic and political development, on the right way towards reviving the country and attracting FDI. However, on its way to the brighter future, it is necessary to pay attention to procedural face of the coin, which presents obstacles and complexities on the ground.