Iranian Labour Law and Employment of Foreign Citizens
Employment of foreign nationals in Iran is only possible within the framework of the provisions stipulated in the Labour Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The general policy of the country is aimed at meeting its labour requirements and implementing its industrial and development projects through Iranian manpower as much as possible. However, employment of foreign manpower when there is an immediate need for their expertise, is not ruled out.
According to Article 120 of the Labour Law, approved on November 20, 1990, foreign nationals are not allowed to work in Iran unless they are provided with an entry visa with the right to engage in specific work, and secondly, they receive work permit according to relevant laws and by-laws.
Obviously, foreign nationals who are exclusively on diplomatic and consular missions, as well as the staff and experts of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations, correspondents of foreign news agencies and press, are exempted from such regulations on the condition of reciprocity.
Ministry of Labur and Social Affairs shall approve the issue of a visa for a specific type of occupation for foreign nationals and work permit for them while taking certain conditions into consideration:
Work permits would be issued, extended or renewed for a period of one year.
When the interests of the industries of the country necessitate the immediate employment of a foreign national, the minister of the relevant ministry may report the case to the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs and upon the approval of the latter, a temporary work permit shall be issued for the foreign national without observing the relevant formalities for the issuance of a visa with right to engage in specific work. The temporary work permit would be valid for a maximum period of three months and its extention would be subject to the approval of the technical board in charge of the occupation of foreign nationals.
Prior to the conclusion of any contract through which foreign experts would b employed, employers are bound to inquire about the views of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on the possibility for the said foreign nationals.
The Ministry of labour and Social Affairs is authorized to take measures for the nullification of the work permit for those foreign nationals who do not observe Islamic principles, current laws and regulations of the country and humanitarian relations, as declared by the competent authorities.
Employers who hire foreign nationals whose work permits have been expired or have no work permit, or employ them in jobs other than those stipulated in their work permits, or do not notify the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs about cases where the employment agreement between them and foreign nationals is terminated, shall be sentenced to prison terms ranging from 91 to 180 days. The court usually changes the jail punishment into cash penalty.
Let's have a look at the related articles of the Liranian Labor Law.
Article 120: Foreign citizens shall not be employed to work in Iran unless they have an entry visa entitling them to specified work and have obtained a work permit in accordance with the relevant statutory regulations.
Note: The following foreign citizens are not subject to the provisions of Article 120:
(a) Foreign citizens exclusively employed by diplomatic and consular missions, subject to confirmation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
(b) The personnel and experts of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, subject to confirmation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
(c) The correspondents of foreign news agencies and press, subject to reciprocity and by the confirmation of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Article 121: In accordance with the conditions stipulated here below, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairsl agrees to issuing an entry visa for the foreign citizen entitling him/her to an specified work, and shall issue the work permit:
(a) according to the information kept in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, there are no qualified applicants with similar education and specialization among the work-seeking Iranian citizens.
(b) the foreign citizen possesses sufficient knowledge and expertise for the job in question.
(c) the expertise of the foreign citizen is further used to train Iranians with a view to the subsequent substitution of the foreign citizen by a trained Iranian.
Note: The Technical Board for Employment shall decide whether the conditions specified in this section are fulfilled. The rules governing the number of members of the Board, the conditions for their selection and the procedure for holding the sessions of the Board shall be drawn up by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and approved by the Council of Ministers.
Article 122: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs may issue, extend or renew the work permit of:
(a) a foreign citizen who has continuously resided in Iran for at least ten years;
(b) a foreign citizen married to an Iranian;
(c) immigrants from foreign countries, particularly the Islamic ones, and political refugees, provided that they have a valid immigration or refugee card, and subject to the written agreement of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Article 123: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs may, if necessary and/or subject to reciprocity, exempt the citizens of certain countries and stateless persons (provided that their status is not optional and voluntary) from payment of the fee for a work permit or for the extension and renewal thereof, subject to confirmation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and approval by the council of ministers.
Article 124: In accordance with the provisions of this Code, a work permit shall be issued, extended or renewed for a maximum period of one year.
Article 125: Where, whatever the circumstances, an employment relationship between a foreign citizen and an employer is discontinued, the employer shall notify the Ministry of Labor and Social affairs thereof within 15 days. The foreign citizen shall within 15 days surrender his work permit to the said Ministry against a receipt. If necessary, the Ministry shall request the appropriate authorities to expel the foreign citizen from the country.
Article 126: Where it is considered contingent to recruit a foreign citizen urgently on an exceptional basis because of the needs of the industry of the country, the minister concerned shall notify the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs accordingly and, subject to the approval of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, a provisional work permit shall be issued to the foreign citizen concerned, without compliance with the formalities normally required for the issuance of a visa entitling the bearer to specified work.
Note: A provisional work permit shall be valid for three months at the most, any extension thereof being subject to confirmation by the Technical Board for the Employment of Foreign Citizens.
Article 127: The conditions of employment of foreign technical experts and specialists needed by the Government shall be drawn up with due regard to their nationalities, length of service, level of remuneration and the availability of domestic manpower. The said conditions shall be subject to ratification by the Islamic Consultative Assembly, following consideration and advice by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the State Organization for Administrative and Employment Affairs. In any case, a work permit for the employment of a foreign expert shall be issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs only with the approval of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
Article 128: Prior to signing any contract likely to entail the employment of foreign experts, an employer shall inquire the opinion of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs about the possibility for authorizing the employment of foreign citizens.
Article 129: The regulations on the employment of foreign citizens, including procedures for issuing, extending, renewing and canceling work permits and conditions for the selection of the members of the Technical Board for the Employment of Foreign citizens, as referred to in Article 121 of this Code, shall be drawn up by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and approved by the Council of Ministers.
Article 181: Any employer who employs a foreign citizen without a work permit, or whose work permit has expired, or who employs a foreign citizen for work other than that specified in his work permit, or who fails to report the discontinuation of the employment relationship of a foreign citizen to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs shall, with due regard to his situation and means and to the degree of the offense, be subject to a term of imprisonment ranging from 91 to 180 days.
The Executive Regulations of Article 129 of the Labor Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran
A: Manners of Issuance, Extension, Renewal and Cancellation of Foreign Citizens' Work Permits.
Article 1: The work permit of foreign citizens whose work visas have been approved by the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens mentioned in Article 121 of the Labor Law will be issued by the "Department for Employment of Expatriates" of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Note 1: The issuance of work visa for foreign citizens mentioned in the Article 122 of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Labor Law is not included in this article and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is authorized to take direct measures in necessary cases.
Note 2: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is allowed to, in exceptional cases of article 126 of the Islamic republic of Iran's labor law, issue a 3 months temporary work permit without observing the formalities related to issuance of work visa but observing other related regulations. The extension of the work permit of such individuals would be permitted following the confirmation of the technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens.
Article 2: Employers who use the foreign citizen's services are obliged to present the required documents for the issuance of work permit for the mentioned citizens to the related departments of Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs within one month of the citizen's arrival to the country. Otherwise, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs would declare the issue to the judicial authorities according to the article 181 of the labor law.
Article 3: Work permit for foreign technical experts and specialists needed by the government will be issued in any case by the Department of Employment of Expatriates after the approval of the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens and the ratification of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
Article 4: Employers who use the foreign citizens' services, if interested in extension of the foreign experts' work permit employed in their organizations, are obliged to send the required documents along with the report of training operations to the relevant departments of Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs within at least one month prior to expire of their work permits.
Article 5: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs can extend the work permit of those foreign citizens mentioned in the Article 3 of this regulation.
Note: Any increase in the projects of foreign manpower, or changes made in the kind of specialisations approved previously, should be discussed again in the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens.
Article 6: All the work permit extension applications for foreign citizens employed in the private sector, in each turn of extension, would be mentioned and decided upon in the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Nationals.
Article 7: Foreign citizens possessing valid work permits whose recruitment contracts with their employers are terminated due to any reason in conditions of change of the employer would be subjected to the renewal of the work permit.
Article 8: The foreign citizens' work permit in cases of change of the employer or the kind of employment, with the exception of foreign citizens mentioned in Article 122 of the Labor Law, would be renewed following the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Nationals' agreement, by the relevant departments of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Article 9: In cases when the employment relation of the foreign citizen is severed with the employer, the latter is obligated to inform the relevant departments of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs within 15 days for the cancellation and filing of foreign citizens' work permit.
The violators of this article would be subjected to the fines and penalties mentioned in article 181 of Labor Law.
Note: The replacement of the foreign citizen whose work permit has been cancelled is subject to the process of issuance of a new work permit in any case.
Article 10: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is authorized to cancel the work permit of those foreign citizens who do not observe the Islamic rules, the country's current laws and regulations, and the standard labor relations, on the basis of reports and declarations received from the related departments.
Note: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs can, in necessary cases, request the competent authorities to prohibit the entrance of those foreign citizens to the country, who haven't observed the points mentioned in this article and have offended more than twice.
Article 11: The executive procedures and necessary documents for issuance of work visa and also for the issuance, extension, and renewal of foreign citizens' work permits would be according to the directions which will be proposed by the Department for Employment of Expatriates and ratified by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.
B: Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Nationals
Article 12: The Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens would consider and decide with regards to the granting of work permit to foreign specialists according to the following points:
1. Using accurate and up to date information about the supply and demand of internal labor market, implementing the general policies of employment of foreign citizens.
2. Consideration and supervision of the implementation of general policies regarding foreign citizens' employment in the field of overcoming the shortages of the internal labor market's requirements, observing the laws and regulations.
3. Investigating, supervising and following the time scheduled training program of sectors which use foreign citizens' services.
4. Investigation and supervision of the issue of skill transfer to the Iranian manpower and replacing the Iranians instead of the foreign citizens.
5. Supervision of the determination and approval of the expertise level of foreign citizens during their work permit validity.
Article 13: The composition of the members of Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens is as follows:
1. Two representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, introduced by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs,
2. A representative of the sector using the foreign citizens' services,
3. A representative of the State Organization for Administrative and Employment Affairs,
4. A representative of Plan and Budget Organization.
Article 14: The meetings of Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens would be held twice a week according to previous invitation chaired by one of the representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, appointed by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.
Article 15: The meetings would be in session with the participation of at least four members and the decisions made would be valid in case of at least 3 positive votes.
Article 16: The department for employment of expatriates is obliged to follow the decisions made by the technical board for employment of foreign citizens.
Article17: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs can, in necessary cases, establish Technical Boards for Employment in provinces, and entrust the whole or a part of authorities of the Central Board to them.
Note: The composition and manner of establishment of the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Citizens in provinces would be according to the directions ratified and approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Fees to Be Paid For Issue and Extension of Work Permits
In the year 13789 (21 March 1999 - 19 March 2000), the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is permitted to receive 500,000 rials for issue and 300,000 rials for extension of the work permit of foreign citizens. (Paragraph E of Note 7 of the National Budget of 1378).
Sums Receivable from the Salary of Foreign Employees
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is permitted to receive 20% of the foreign employees' salary and allowances plus the equivalent of the unemployment insurance fee paid for the Iranian workers, from the employers in the relevant private sector.
(Paragraph B of Article 26 of the Law of Collection of Some of the Incomes of the Government and Spending the Same in Certain Cases, approved on 19 March 1995)