Know Your Visa: Things Expats Thinking of Moving to the UAE Should Know


Beautiful beaches, serene desert, adventure sports, excellent entertainment venues, and high-end brands are some of the things that first come to our minds when we talk about the United Arab Emirates. However, considering the current employment scenario in the country, it also ranks among the top job destinations in the world. With the date of the grand Expo 2020 event nearing, the UAE economy is experiencing exponential growth across industries. The demand for labor in almost all the sectors of the economy has increased. Thus, the number of skilled and unskilled expats entering the UAE every year has also increased.

Also Read – Dubai World Expo 2020 –Enhancing the Economy through Different Non-Oil Based Sectors


Despite being home to the highly competitive job market, the UAE holds a positive outlook towards the international job seekers trying their luck in the country. In addition to great employment opportunities, the UAE offers a host of benefits to the job seekers such as lucrative salaries & compensation packages, career growth, great work-life balance, and a luxurious lifestyle.

While the opportunity of moving to the UAE is certainly exciting, it also comes with a lot of legal formalities and paperwork. If you too are interested in settling base in the country, here’s everything you need to know about the visa formalities:


Types of Visas in the UAE

1. Visit Visa:

If you have any of your family members, relatives or friends living in the UAE, they can sponsor your visit visa. They can apply for your entry permit at the office of the Ministry of Interior or at the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA). The GDFRA offices are located in each emirate of the UAE. There are two types of visit visas – short-term visit visas (allowing you to stay for up to 30 days), and long-term visit visas (allowing you to stay for up to 90 days).

Once the visit visa is issued, your sponsor needs to send you a copy of the permit via fax or email and submit the original copy of the permit to the airport authorities. You need to carry the permit copy with you at the time of de-boarding so that the airport authorities can crosscheck. If you don’t carry the copy of the permit, you won’t be allowed to enter the country.


2. Tourist Visa:

Tourist Visas are entry permits eligible individual tourists from around the world can obtain. Such visas can be sponsored by the airlines, licensed travel agents or hotels in the UAE. A tourist visa permits its holder to stay in the country for 30 days, which can be extended to 40 days.


3. Residence Visa:

Moving and living in the UAE requires you to obtain a residence visa. For the expats taking up a job in the country, the residence visa is sponsored and the formalities are taken care of by the company (private or public) employing him/her. Usually, the employer submits all the relevant documents and even bears the visa costs on the employee’s behalf. Ideally, expats must have their residency visa with them at the time of entering the country.

Before getting the residency visa, expats need to undergo and pass a medical test. Those who are tested positive for tuberculosis and/or HIV are not granted the residency visa.


4. Work Visa:

A work visa is a permit required by the expats to be able to work in the UAE. Once you have a residency visa, it is easier to obtain a work visa which permits the holder to stay in the country for up to three years. Usually, a work visa is also taken care of by the employer. Expats are required to support the employing company by providing necessary documents mentioned below–

– Photograph

– Valid Passport

– Valid Educational Certificates

– Residency Visa (usually available with the employer)

– Three copies of the employment contract– one for the employer, one for the employee, and one for the Ministry of Labor (usually available with the employer)

– Trade License of the Sponsoring Company (usually available with the employer)


Sponsoring Your Spouse/Family

Once you are employed in the UAE, you can sponsor your family members for them to be able to come and stay with you. However, it is subject to certain conditions, including the minimum salary and minimum accommodation set out by the GDRFA of the emirate that has issued your visa. There are different rules and procedures for sponsoring your spouse, children, step-children, and parent. If you want your entire family to move in, you will need to sponsor each individual. Also, each family member will have to pass the medical test to be eligible for entering the country.

Also Read: How to Sponsor Your Family in UAE: A Guide For Women Seeking to Work in Dubai


The Emirates Identification Card

Once you are deemed fit to enter the country and start your new life, the next step is to apply for the Emirates Identification Card. The Emirates ID is a legal requirement for all the residents of the UAE, including expats and needs to be carried by the holder at all times. The card can be used for a number of purposes such as paying bills, paying fines, registering your vehicle, etc. It also works as a debit card and driving license.

You can apply for your Emirates ID by filling an online form or at any approved typing office. After submitting the form, you will be sent an SMS containing the date, time, and the Emirates Identification Authority (EIDA) branch you need to visit for submitting a fee along with your passport, visa, and Emirates ID application.

Once you have submitted the documents, an account number will be issued. You can use this number for tracking the status of your Emirates ID card on EIDA’s official website. Upon successful completion of the formalities, your ID card will be delivered to the local post office for you to collect and the notification for the same will be sent to your phone via SMS.


Note – Visa regulation and sponsorship requirements are subject to change. It is best to verify the information with the Embassy for any changes or updates made in the procedure.


Image Source: Pixabay

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Categories: Working in the UAE

About Megha Raizada

Megha Raizada is a professional writer with a keen interest in the global job market. She loves to keep a track of everything interesting happening around the globe. When not writing or browsing the Internet, you will find her creating furniture out of used tires.

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