Iraq’s Labour Law makes a distinction between Arab and foreign employees. Arab employees are treated as Iraqis and therefore are not required to obtain work permits – rather, employees must only inform the Labour office within 10 days before commencement of employment for Iraqi employees, or within 30 days for Arab employees. On the other hand, foreign employees require work permits and may not begin employment prior to acquiring one. Employees of foreign branches are exempted from this rule.
Iraq currently faces extremely volatile social and economic conditions which have led the Consulate Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ban the issuance of new work permits, as of February 2010, reiterated in the Prime Minister’s statement in February 2011 which prevents the issuance of work permits to non-Arab expatriate workers without official consent in writing from the Council of Ministers of National Security Council. On the condition that this consent is received, the procedure to apply for a work permit is outlined below.
Article 12 of the Iraqi Investment Law No. 13 gives investors and business owners the right to employ foreign workers. In order to obtain a work permit, the following procedure should be followed:
1. An employment offer is issued to the foreigner
Foreigners must have received an official offer from either Iraqi authorities, respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs and letters from the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a letter from their prospective employer stating the reason for their travel.
2. The employer submits a written request to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
This should include all required information and supporting documents, as well as information about the employee’s name, nationality, type and duration of work, employer’s name and address.
The following documents must be included:
2. Two color photographs of the applicant
3. Colour copy of the passport with at least 6 months validity
4. Official letter from the employer inviting the foreigner to work in Iraq
Time: Visas take approximately 4-8 weeks to be processed.
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3. The Department of Labour and Vocational Training checks all the legal conditions and then approaches the relevant authorities to issue an entry visa to the employee.
When employees enter Iraq, they must attend the Department of Labour and Vocational Training within 7 days from the date of the entry so that the procedures for obtaining a work permit can be completed.
If the employee is already in Iraq and wishes to commence work, they must:
1. Submit all legal papers and documents proving the employee’s legitimacy of entry and residency in Iraq
2. The employer submits a written request to the Department of Labour and Vocational Training in Baghdad, or equivalent divisions in other provinces.
Work permits are issued for one year and can be renewed at least one month prior to expiration.
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To apply for a tourist visa, which allows visiting friends and family, sight seeing, and any unpaid work, an application form must be completed and included with two colour photographs of the applicant, a copy of their passport in colour with at least 6 months’ validity, proof of departure and HIV test results.
This type of visa allows foreign non-Arab workers to undertake employment in Iraq. Employees of foreign branches are not required to apply for a work permit. Work permits are issued for one year and can be renewed at least one month prior to expiration.