How to Obtain a UAE Residence Visa - Rules and Regulations

Are you interested in relocating to the UAE and acquiring a residence visa? Just like with any move to a new country, you have to ensure that the legal status you obtain allows you to meet your goals. Not all visas are created equal, so we’ll go through the types of available permits and what you need to know for your UAE residence visa application. 


What’s the difference between a residence visa and an employment visa in the UAE?

If you are relocating to the UAE for work, the first step is applying for a work permit application to enter the country from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). This is an entry permit that you use to arrive in the Emirates that your company must procure for you. This work permit is valid for two months from its issue date, and once in the UAE, you must work towards converting this work permit/entry visa into your residence visa. 

If you are seeking to work in the UAE, your employer must sponsor you and bear the costs of the procedures. We’ll go into greater detail about the steps involved in cementing your UAE residence visa later in this article. 

What are the benefits of a UAE residency visa? 

Having a UAE residency visa opens a lot of doors for foreign citizens. Here are a few of the reasons you should consider UAE residency:

  • Access to personal UAE bank account

  • Tax-free status

  • Access to national healthcare

  • Access to UAE driver’s license

type of residence visa in uae

What are the types of residence visas in the UAE?

The residence visas that are available to foreigners looking to settle in the UAE are:

  • Work Visa: for those working at a UAE-based firm or for the Emirati government

  • Investor Visa: for those looking to invest either in a business or property in the UAE

  • Student Visa: for those going to study at a university in the UAE

  • Family Visa: for family members of residents or UAE nationals


What are the UAE residence visa rules and regulations?

People from all countries, except Emirati nationals or citizens of GCC countries, will require the appropriate residence permit to live in the UAE. Unlike other countries where you must apply for a residence visa from outside the country in which you are looking to settle (such as the EB-5 visa in the United States), you can only finalise the residence visa process from within Emirati territory. Remember, applying for your initial entry permit is different than obtaining a residence permit. 

If you are in the UAE on a tourist visa and you receive a job offer while on holiday, you can apply for a work permit by exiting Emirati territory. However, you don’t need to go back to your home country; some airlines have a Dubai-Oman-Dubai flight option, should you need to make a quick visa run. Your employer could also go through a “Changed Status” process that will allow you to remain in the Emirates through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GFDRA), in the emirate where the company is domiciled. 

If you own a property in Dubai that is worth more than 1 million dirhams, you can apply for a two-year residence permit. Please note that this Investor Visa does not grant you a work permit and you cannot spend more than 6 months a year outside the UAE or your visa will be rendered invalid. 

If you are establishing a business in the UAE and don’t have employer sponsorship, don’t fret. You can obtain a work permit and then residency through establishing your company. Whether you are looking to incorporate in a free zone or on the UAE Mainland, our team at Europe Emirates Group can assist you in this process. 


What is the UAE residence visa application process?

  1. The first step is to apply for your entry permit, regardless of whether you’re looking for an investor visa or a work visa. 

    1. In some cases, such as for doctors and teachers, additional documents are required. Consult your employer to ensure that you have all the correct documents. 

    2. If the job offer requires specific educational qualifications, such as a Bachelor’s degree, you will have to supply a legalised copy of the document from your country’s foreign ministry. For those countries that are members of the Apostille of the Hague, you must get your degree Apostilled. For the United Kingdom, all qualifications from GCSEs to PhDs can get Apostilled. However, every country has different procedures for obtaining it. 

    3. You will also have to submit a copy of your passport that has at least six months’ validity and a colour photograph with a white background. 

  2. Once you have arrived in the UAE, you can move ahead and obtain your residence permit

    1. The process includes a medical exam as part of the employment process. Every time you renew your residence visa, you will have to undergo a new medical review

    2. You will need to apply for a Labour Card, as well as an Emirates ID that will serve as your mandatory form of identification for a variety of bureaucratic and immigration procedures. These documents are crucial for starting your life in the UAE, from obtaining a driver’s licence to your bank account and PO box as they are your proof of residency. The Emirates ID links to your visa and passport automatically.  

  3. The requirements for family residency in Dubai vary depending on a few factors.

    1. Once male applicants complete the visa process, they can bring over their immediate family as long as they earn a minimum wage of either 4,000 AED or 3,000 AED plus accommodation

    2. Before March 2019, the type of job was also part of the dependent visa eligibility criteria, but that is no longer active. Applicants have 60 days to complete the process once their family enters the UAE. If you are in a family where the father is able to sponsor the family, the mother cannot carry out the sponsorship process. 

    3. As for women, the sponsorship criteria is more stringent, and the procedures vary depending on the Emirate. In Dubai, women must obtain special permission from the GFDRA and earn a monthly wage of at least 10,000 AED; however, single mothers can sponsor their children

uae family visa requirements

How can you obtain permanent residency? 

Most residence permits in the UAE are valid for either one, two or three years, depending on your situation. However, the Gold Card category offers 10-year, automatically renewable residency permits to investors in public-sector projects that involve an investment of at least 10,000,000 AED, new company formation or for specialised talents in medicine, art, science, engineering and more. These types of visas were created in 2019 and also have a five-year visa scheme. 

Beyond these long-term categories, most people are required to work within the general work visa renewal periods and meet the indicated criteria. 

Are you ready to get your UAE residence permit number?

If you’re interested in any part of the residence visa process in the UAE, opening a non-resident or resident bank account or obtaining a visa through starting a business in the Emirates, we’re here to help. We highly encourage you to reach out to our team of residency experts that can guide you through the process.



Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group



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