Do you need an entry permit or a visa to enter the UAE?
Entry permit and visa policies
The visa and permit system works according to rules and regulations set by Ministry of Interior and its affiliated Directorates of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in each emirate. Visa policies are based on the principle of reciprocity. Before you apply for a visa or an entry permit, check if you are eligible for a visa-free entry or to receive visa on arrival or you need eVisa prior to travel or an entry permit pre-arranged by a sponsor based in the UAE.
Disclaimer: The visa rules are subject to change. The details on this page are just an overview of the general requirements for visas. You are advised to check with the UAE embassies and consulates abroad and/or contact the UAE’s Ministry of Interior.
Citizens of GCC countries do not require a visa or permit or to be sponsored by a national or resident in the UAE. They need to produce their GCC country passport or national ID card at the point of entry into the UAE.
Visa on arrival
As per the website of Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline, Indian nationals holding a normal passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date and a visit visa or green card issued by the USA, can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days. They can apply to extend their stay for an additional 14 days. Similarly, as per The National and Khaleej Times newspapers, Indian passport holders with UK and EU residency are eligible for visa on arrival to the UAE. Citizens of the following countries can get a 30-day visit visa on arrival, free of charge and renewable for similar period.
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- People’s Republic of China
- Russian Federation
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Vatican City
Citizens of the following countries can get a 90-day multiple entry visit visa valid for 6 months from the date of issue for a stay of 90 days.
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
This list may vary from time to time; therefore, it is advisable to check with the airline you are flying with or the UAE embassy before travelling to the UAE.
eVisa for GCC residents
GCC residents and companions travelling with GCC citizens need to apply for visa online and obtain the same before arriving in the UAE. For granting the visa, preference is given to GCC residents with a high professional status, such as businessmen, company managers, accountants, auditors, engineers, doctors, pharmacists, or employees working in the public sector. In this case, visa is also given to their families, drivers and personal staff under their sponsorship. General notes
- eVisa will be sent to you to your registered email address once your application is approved
- Application for GCC residents and companions travelling with GCC citizens will not be approved if the sponsor is not travelling along with them
- GCC residents’ entry permit is valid for 30 days from the date of issue and they are allowed to stay for 30 days from the date of entry. The visa is extendable once for 30 days
- Entry permit for companions travelling with GCC citizens is valid for 60 days from the date of issue and they are allowed to stay for 60 days from the date of entry. The visa is extendable once for 60 days
- Upon arrival if the GCC resident’s visa is found to be expired or cancelled, he will not be granted entry
- If the profession of the GCC resident is found to be changed after the issuance of his entry permit, the entry permit holder will not be granted entry
- GCC residency must be valid for at least 3 months from the arrival date
- The passport of GCC residents must be valid at least 3 months from the arrival date.
Pre-arranged entry permits
Anyone who does not fall into any of the above categories will require an entry permit prior to arrival into the UAE and someone to sponsor it. What type of entry permit you need? The entry permit you need depends on the purpose of your visit. It could be for:
Requirements for an entry permit These are the requirements for an entry permit:
- You need a sponsor to apply for your entry permit. The sponsor could be:
- an Emirati citizen
- an expatriate resident with valid residency permit in the UAE
- a UAE-based airline
- a UAE-based hotel or tour agent
- a government entity
- companies in the private sector or free zones.
2. Prospective visitors seeking entry permits are required to have a genuine passport, valid for at least six months. 3. A visa ban prohibits a person from entering the country or taking up a new job. Prospective visitors must not have been deported or be banned from entering the UAE in which case, he needs to obtain special permission to re-enter. 4.Visitors who come to the UAE with an entry permit to work in the UAE are required to undergo medical tests at government approved health centres in the UAE. They will be tested for communicable diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis (TB). Those found to be HIV positive or having TB will be deported. Who can apply for your entry permit? Many channels can apply for an entry permit for you.
- A relative or friend living in the UAE
A relative or a friend residing in the UAE can sponsor your entry permit to the UAE. The entry permit application can be processed at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate of the relative/friend’s residence. Usually, an expatriate resident can sponsor an entry permit for his first-degree relatives only such as spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters. Nationals can sponsor entry permits for their families and friends. Below are links to the local GDRFA offices where an entry permit is issued.
- GDRFA – Abu Dhabi
- GDRFA – Dubai
- GDRFA – Sharjah
- GDRFA – Ajman
- GDRFA – Umm Al Quwain
- GDRFA – Ras Al Khaimah
- GDRFA – Fujairah.
Documents required to apply for an entry permit:If the sponsor is a national, he/she should present:
- a recent photo of the sponsored
- a copy of the passport of the sponsored; the passport should be valid for at least six months
- proof of health insurance of the sponsored from a company operating in the UAE
- a refundable financial guarantee of AED 1,000 for entry permit.
If the sponsor is an expatriate resident in the UAE, he should present:
- a recent photo of the sponsored
- a copy of passport of the sponsored; the passport should be valid for at least six months
- proof of health insurance of the sponsored from a company operating in the UAE
- a refundable financial guarantee of AED 1,000 for entry permit
- his salary certificate
- his employment contract
- his attested lease contract
- a recent electricity bill for his accommodation
- his attested marriage contract, in case entry permit is for his spouse.
- The UAE-based airlines
The UAE-based airlines can apply for an entry permit on your behalf to the visa-issuing authorities in the UAE. Each airline has some general or specific conditions, which must be met in order for your permit to be arranged by them. One of these conditions is flying with them. For more updated and specific information, check with the following UAE-based airlines for types, terms and conditions for entry permit. Also, enquire about documents you need to provide them.
- Visa services of Etihad Airways-Etihad Airways
- Visa services offered by Emirates Airline-Emirates Airline
- Visa services of Fly Dubai-Fly Dubai
- Visa services of Air Arabia-Air Arabia
- Agencies and hotels
Licensed travel agents and hotels in the UAE can arrange an entry permit if you purchase the air ticket through them and maintain hotel reservation with the specific hotel. You may also contact travel agencies in your country for tourism packages to the UAE who can arrange an entry permit in collaboration with a tour operator in the UAE. It is important to check the authenticity of travel agents you are dealing with and refrain from paying or sending copies of your official documents until after you are 100 per cent sure that the tourist operator is genuine. You may seek the help of the UAE embassy in your country for verification. As per the website of GDRFA, hotels and tourist companies can apply for an entry permit on your behalf which will entitle you to a
- 30-day tourist visa extendable to 40 days
- 14-day service visa
- 30-day visit visa extendable to 30 days.
- A government entity
If you are a prospective employee of a government entity in the UAE, it can apply for an entry permit for you. Government entities include federal ministries, government agencies, Courts of Rulers and their representatives and other entities that are not governed by the UAE’s Labour Law.
- Work entry permit for government entities
- Get a special entry permit for government entities and event organisers
- Application for a new resident visa for people working in the public sector.
- Private companies
Private companies on the mainland and free zones can obtain entry permits for their prospective employees. The entry permit allows the employee to enter the country within 2 months from the issuance date and to stay for a maximum period of 30 days from the date of entry. Employers must change the status of their employees into residence visa within 30 days from the employee’s entry into the UAE. Companies must submit the following documents to the respective GDRFA:
- initial work permit issued by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- copy of the sponsored person’s passport
- copy of the company’s valid trade licence
- copy of the establishment card
- copy of the card of the Public Relations Officer.
Read more on ‘Getting a work and residency permit’.
Validity of entry permits
The validity of entry permits and the time-frame within which the visitor should enter the country depends on the type of permit issued. The validity permit for visit visas, tourist visas and/or employment visas is 60 days from the issue date. However, the validity of entry permits for GCC residents is 30 days from the issue date. 96-hours transit visas are valid only for 14 days from the issuance day. Different validity duration applies for multiple entry visas and temporary work permits. Check with Ministry of Interior and/or the local General Directorates of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) about visa validity.
Illegal to work on a visit or tourist visa
Visitors and tourists should be aware that it is illegal to work in the UAE with or without pay while being on a visit or tourist visa. According to the UAE’s labour and residency laws, a person cannot work if he has not been issued a work permit and employment visa. Violators may be liable to fines and deportation.
What is the difference between an entry permit and a residence visa?
An entry permit is a document issued by General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) that allows the foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period of time. The document may be in a physical or an electronic form. Before you apply for one, check if you need an entry permit or you might get it on arrival. The party sponsoring the person who wants to enter the UAE will handle the entry permit transaction through GDRFA’s online and offline channels. The sponsor could be a company from the private sector, a public entity, a relative, a UAE-based airline or a hotel and so on. Depending on your reason to enter the UAE, there are various types of entry permits. Some of them are:
- entry permit – employment
- entry permit – family visit
- entry permit – tourism/transit
- entry permit – treatment
- entry permit – mission
- entry permit – attending conferences.
The entry permit has a validity date, which refers to the period within which the entry permit must be used by entering the UAE through one of its entry points at the land borders, airports or seaports. For most entry permits, the validity is two months. The validity of entry permits cannot be extended, they automatically expire upon the lapse of their time. The duration of stay for each entry permit differs according to the type of entry permit. For example, entry permits for transit allow the person to stay in the country for 4 days, while entry permits for employment allow the employee to stay in the country for two months, during which his sponsor must change the employee’s status into residence visa, or else must leave within the duration of stay. If the entry permit holder does not change his status into residence visa, he has to leave the country upon the lapse of entry permit duration to avoid fines and penalties.
A residence visa is issued to the foreigner when he is already inside the country having entered using the entry permit. Only sponsors meeting GDRFA’s requirements can apply for the foreigner’s residence visa. A residence visa requires the person sponsored to undergo a medical test and prove that he/she is medically fit and he must pass a security check. The validity of stay on a residence visa varies according to its type and the sponsor. It could be for one, two or three years. The GDRFA will paste a residence visa on the passport enabling him to travel freely in and out of the UAE within the validity period of the visa, provided the duration of travel does not exceed six months, or else the residence visa will be cancelled automatically. Read on our portal about:
- Sponsoring residency visa by expatriates
- Getting a work and residency permit
- Renewing your residence visa
- Cancelling your residence visa.
For more details on entry permits and visas check on the websites of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in each emirate:
Whom is student visa’s for? A student’s visa is for a university or a college student studying in the UAE. It is issued to expatriate students who are residing in the UAE under the sponsorship of their parents or relatives, or to foreign international students who come from abroad to join one of the higher educational institutes in the UAE. Key requirements of a student’s visa In order to secure a freshman student’s visa, the applicant must obtain an official admission letter from the university he is studying at. For older students, a certificate of continuation of study is needed. Other requirements include:
- passing medical fitness test
- a visa sponsor, either the university itself or a parent or relative
- approval of the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
What is the term of validity of the student’s visa? Currently, a student’s visa is given for a duration of one year, at a time, renewable for a similar period upon an official proof of continuation of a study issued from the relevant higher educational institute in the UAE where the student is admitted. Note: In May 2018, the UAE announced major changes in the visa system which will be implemented in the third quarter of 2018. Under this system, students that are performing exceptionally well will be eligible for a 10-year residency, while other students can get a five-year visa. Students sponsored by their parents in the UAE will receive a visa extension to help them get started in their career after graduating. Specialists, such as doctors and engineers, will also be eligible for a 10-year residency visa. More details on the student’s visa provisions will be announced later. Who can provide a student’s visa? Student’s visa in the UAE can be secured either by residents sponsoring their children or by one of the accredited universities/colleges in the UAE. Visa applications are processed through visa authorities represented by the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in each emirate. How can UAE expatriate residents secure a student’s visa for their children? UAE laws do not allow a resident expatriate to continue sponsoring their male children above the age of 18. An exception is given to male students who continue their studies in one of the higher educational institutes in the UAE or abroad. Therefore, male students over the age 18 can remain on their parent’s residence visa sponsorship as long as they provide an evidence of attendance at a higher educational institute for a minimum of one year’s course. Expatriate parents may continue to sponsor their female children for study, regardless of their children’s age. How can universities and colleges secure a visa for their students? Accredited universities and colleges in the UAE can secure a visa for their students whether international students or students already residing in the UAE. Students should refer to terms and conditions listed in each university or college to know specific requirements for admission and visa process. Admission in one of the UAE universities does not guarantee that visa will be issued. Visa issuance is subject to certain requirements, which include passing a medical fitness test, a security check and the approval of the GDRFA in the relevant emirate. These are the available channels to apply for a student’s visa in the UAE.
Who is a tourist visa for?
Tourist visa is for those who are not eligible for visa on arrival or a visa-free entry to the UAE. Tourist visa can be obtained for eligible individual tourists from around the world. Females below the age of 18 are not eligible to apply for this type of visa unless they are travelling with their parents. According to a Cabinet resolution passed in July 2018, children under the age of 18 years who are accompanying adults, can get free visa for their visit from 15 July to 15 September each year.
What is the validity of a tourist visa?
Depending on your plan, tourist visas to the UAE can be issued for 30 days or 90 days duration, single entry or multiple entry. A tourist visa is not extendable.
Who can apply for your tourist visa?
The UAE embassies do not issue tourist visas. In order to get a tourist visa to the UAE, you need to get in touch with one of the UAE-based airlines, a tour agency or a prospective hotel in the UAE who will apply for visa on your behalf to the official visa-issuing authorities in the UAE. Tourist visas through airlines Each airline has some conditions, which must be met in order for your visa to be arranged by them. One of the conditions is flying with them. For more updated and specific information, check the following UAE-based airlines for visa types, facilities, terms and conditions:
- Visa services from Etihad Airways – Etihad Airways
- Visa Services offered by Emirates Airline – Emirates Airline
- Visa services from Fly Dubai – Fly Dubai
- Visa services from Air Arabia – Air Arabia
Tourist visas through agencies and hotels Licensed travel agents and hotels in the UAE can arrange a tourist visa for you provided you purchase the ticket through them and maintain hotel reservation with the specific hotel. You may also contact travel agencies in your country for any tourist packages available to the UAE in collaboration with a local tour operator. It is important to check the authenticity of travel agents you are dealing with and refrain from paying or sending copies of your official documents until after you are 100 per cent sure the tourist operator is genuine. You may seek the help of the UAE embassy in your country for verification. Also learn about the provisions of a transit visa to the UAE.
Transit visas for 48 hours
On 13 June 2018, the UAE Government decided to grant free transit visas for 48 hours to passengers transiting throughout the UAE’s airports. This visa may be extended for up to 96 hours against a fee of AED 50. A number of express counters at the passport-control desks across UAE airports will facilitate transit visa for passengers. The implementation date of the decision has not been set yet, but is expected to be announced shortly.
Who is transit visa for?
You do not need a transit visa if you are one of the nationalities eligible for visa on arrival or a visa-free entry to the UAE. According to the websites of Abu Dhabi Airport and Government of Fujairah, citizens of Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Niger and Yemen are not eligible for a transit visa on arrival.
When to apply for a transit visa?
You may apply for a transit visa if you are transiting through the UAE’s airports for a period between 8 hours and 4 calendar days. According to Abu Dhabi Airports, you can still apply for transit visa if you have more than four hours between your original and connecting flight.
Benefits of a transit visa
The visa allows the passenger 96 hours to visit freely inside the UAE. A transit visa is valid for 14 days from its date of issue and allows the passenger a single entry.
Who can apply for your transit visa?
Only the airlines you are travelling through can arrange your transit visa prior to your journey. If your trip is through a travel agency, the agency could also help you get the visa, but all visas are routed through the airline.
Conditions for applying for transit visas
In order to apply for transit visa, passengers must meet the following conditions. The passengers:
- must have a valid passport and a confirmed onward booking to a 3rd destination
- must ensure that the transit time between his original and connecting flight is between 8 hours and 4 calendar days
- must leave the UAE within 96 hours (four days) of arrival, or 14 days after the visa was issued
- must have a confirmed hotel reservation in the UAE.
UAE visa amnesty programme
UAE visa amnesty programme 2018
The UAE initiated an amnesty programme for visa violators and illegal residents in the UAE. The programme will cover violations before 1 August 2018 only. As per Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), the entity responsible for entry and residence of foreigners in the UAE, visa violators before 1 August 2018 will be able to rectify their status legally during the amnesty period, which runs from 1 August 2018 to 31 October 2018. Overstaying residents have the option to exit the country without paying fines or facing jail or getting ban or they can rectify their status by getting a new-sponsored valid visa. For inquiries regarding amnesty programme, ICA has dedicated a toll free number 80080, available 24/7.
Who can apply for amnesty?
The amnesty programme will cover:
- Violators who reside in the UAE illegally – The programme will grant them a grace period to settle their status or to leave the UAE voluntarily without any legal consequences or fines.
- Overstaying job seekers – They can obtain a six-month self-sponsored temporary visa. Job seekers will have an opportunity to look for employment by registering in the virtual job market available on the website of Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
- Those who entered the country illegally – They will be given amnesty by exiting the UAE with two-year ban.
- People with absconding reports – They can apply for amnesty and leave the country without a ban.
- Nationals of countries suffering from wars and disasters – They will be given a residence visa for one year, regardless of their residency conditions.
- Widows or divorced women – Their visa and their children’s will be extended for one year without the need for a sponsor.
Who is excluded from amnesty?
Blacklisted and those who have legal cases against them are not eligible for amnesty.
Where to apply for the amnesty programme?
Applicants can apply for amnesty through nine centres set up across the UAE, near customer happiness centres of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – GDRFA across all emirates. These centres will be open from 8am to 8pm on weekdays. Additionally, people can approach the main GDRFA offices across the country, for any help or enquiry.
Fees related to amnesty
Illegal residents wishing to exit the country can approach the respective GDRFA office and get an exit permit against a fee of AED 220. Individuals have to exit within 10 days after getting the exit pass. To get the exit permit you need to submit your application with the following documents:
- your original passport or emergency certificate
- an air ticket to your destination.
Residents without passports can also apply. GDRFA authorities will also issue exit permits based on medical reports or letters from your embassy or consulate. Those wishing to stay in the country can adjust their status by submitting new sponsor’s valid certificates for status change or residency transfer or obtain a new residency. GDRFA authorities will charge you a fee of AED 500 for changing visa status.
Visa rules for UAE resident visa holders travelling abroad
The general rule is that if expatriate residents, that is, people who hold a UAE resident visa, live outside UAE for more than six months continuously, their residency visa will be automatically nullified. If this happens, they will have to apply for a new entry permit to enter the UAE again. However, there are some exceptions to the rule, which allow the resident expatriate to stay outside the UAE for more than six months and at the same time maintain the validity of his residence visa. They include:
- foreigner wife of an Emirati citizen who is on the sponsorship of her husband
- expatriate government employees sent abroad for treatment, provided they submit a medical report approved by Ministry of Health and Prevention or other medical authorities in the UAE.
- domestic helpers accompanying Emiratis for studies or medical treatment
- domestic helpers accompanying members of diplomatic and consular missions representing the UAE abroad and employees of such missions holding resident visas in the UAE
- expatriate residents working for the public sector sent by their employers to attend training or specialist courses, or those working in their employers’ offices abroad and their families who are holders of valid residence visas in the UAE
- expatriate students studying in universities or institutes abroad (as per Dubai rules). Check with the GDRFA if this applies to your emirate of residence.
Where to apply for entry permits or visas?
These are the online channels for applying for entry permits:
- the eChannels portal
- the website of Ministry of Interior
- the website of GDRFA
- the mobile apps.
The eChannels portal Through the eChannels portal, individuals and companies registered in the UAE can apply for a new visa or visa renewal. In order to apply, individuals and companies must first register themselves. Note thateVisa can be used at entry port in the UAE without the need to put the original visa in the entry port before the arrival of the sponsored. The website of Ministry of Interior Visa can be applied through the website of Ministry of Interior – eServices section. Ministry of Interior provides a service card for each online service which outlines terms and conditions, required documents, payment method and the time needed to process the visa application. Upon approval, visa will be sent to the sponsor’s registered email after the end of the proceedings by the competent authorities. To apply for a service, first please register through the MOI website or the SmartPass. The website of GDRFA You can apply online for visa through the websites of the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in each emirate. The links to GDRFA are listed below:
- Abu Dhabi – GDRFA
- Dubai – GDRFA
- Sharjah – GDRFA
- Ajman – GDRFA
- Umm Al Quwain – GDRFA
- Ras Al Khaimah – GDRFA
- Fujairah – GDRFA.
GDRFA of Dubai provides one more website Amer.ae, through which Dubai nationals and residents can apply for entry permit and residence visa for their families. Visitors can apply for extension to visas on arrival. Mobile apps You may apply for UAE entry permit and residence visa through:
Typing centres Offline visa application can be done through licensed typing centres where visa application is typed and processed through the GDRFA of the respective emirate. Upon approval, the sponsor will receive a message about the approval and the original entry permit. Amer centres Dubai Government stipulates that all entry permit and visa transactions must be carried out through its Amer centres. Locate Amer centres in Dubai. Service centres Ministry of Interior provides service centres in all the emirates.
Visa – fees, tracking, overstaying and modifying
Track your visa application
The UAE Government offers online and offline facilities to check your visa validity and track your visa application. You can:
- check the validity of your visa on the website of Ministry of Interior
- track your visa application on the Ministry of Interior’s smart services system eChannels
- enquire about eVisa through the Fawri visa system (for establishments)
- check Dubai visa validity on the website of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai
- enquire about overstays, entry and residence permits through the Moblie Services 150 service
- enquire about visa status, issuance, expiry and validity through ِAmer.gdrfad.gov.ae website
- Track your the status of visa/entry permit application submitted at Amer centers in Dubai
- send a message or chat with Amer office
- enquire about the status of GDRFA service through the DubaiNow website
- track your visa application through Etihad Airways’ TT Services website
- track your visa application through Emirates Airline’s visa application centre.
Alternatively, for any enquiry regarding visa issuance, types and validity, you may communicate with Ministry of Interior call centre at the toll free number 800 5000 or through Ministry of Interior feedback platform: https://www.fms.ae/ For Dubai visas, you may contact Amer service on the toll free number at 800 5111 if you are living in the UAE. People living outside the UAE, can call Amer on the toll free number +9714-313-9999. Check also contact details of:
- GDRFA – Abu Dhabi
- GDRFA – Dubai
- GDRFA – Sharjah
- GDRFA – Ajman
- GDRFA – Umm Al Quwain
- GDRFA – Ras Al Khaimah
- GDRFA – Fujairah
Cost of visas
The fees for each type of visa differs. It may also change from time to time. Every visa applicant must pay the visa application processing fee according to the visa category he is applying for. Ministry of Interior published a visa application fees list (in Arabic) which includes the various types of entry permits and residency permits applicable across all northern emirates and Abu Dhabi. Note that the fees differ slightly in each emirate. The processing time of the UAE visas is usually two to three days depending on the type of visa applied for. An additional fee of AED 100 applies if the visa service is requested on an urgent basis. If you are applying for visa online, you may check the time required to process on the service card of the visa applied for.
Overstaying your visa
If a tourist or a visitor overstays, he will be fined with AED 200 for the first day of overstay, followed by AED100 each consecutive day. This is to be paid in addition to AED 100, as service fees at the immigration offices or at the airport when exiting. In the case of UAE residents, they have 30 days’ grace period after visa expiry to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period. If they overstay after the grace period, they will be fined with AED 125 for the first day and AED 25 for each subsequent day. After six months of overstaying, the resident would be fined AED 50 per day. After one year of overstaying, the resident would be fined AED 100 per day. Check details with GDRFA in your respective emirate.
Modifying visa status
Under the Ministerial Resolution No. 377 of 2014, holders of all types of visas can modify the status of their entry while staying in the country if they wish to transfer it into a residency visa. Modifying visa status into residency visa applies after meeting required terms and conditions and payment of AED 550 fee in lieu of leave. However, the applicant must do this before the expiry of his current visa to avoid any penalties. For more information regarding work visa process, refer to the jobs section.
Sponsoring residency visa by expatriates
Expatriate residents, both employers and employees, may sponsor their families in the UAE provided they have a valid residency permit. Male residents who are employed in the UAE can sponsor their immediate family members, such as wife and children, subject to conditions which include minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation. A resident sponsor has 30 days to apply for his dependents’ residence visa after they enter the UAE and modify their status from an entry permit holder to a resident visa holder. Family members are issued visas for one, two or three years depending on the nature of the work and labour contract of the sponsoring member and his capacity as an employee or employer. In general, expatriate employees are issued residency visa for one year or two years based on their labour contract, while expatriate employers are issued residency visa for three years. Sponsored residents except adult males who are continuing their education and sponsored parents can enjoy the same visa duration as their sponsors. For the adult males and parents, the residence visa is granted on a yearly basis regardless of the sponsor’s visa duration. The conditions are subject to change from time to time. Kindly check with GDRFA of the respective emirate. Below are links to the local GDRFA offices:
Medical fitness requirement In order for the UAE to grant or renew a residence visa for family members, males and females who have completed the age of 18 need to undergo and pass medical fitness tests at government approved health centres in the UAE. All applicants of visa, whether for first time or for renewal, will be tested for two communicable diseases: HIV (by testing their blood) and pulmonary tuberculosis (by taking an x-ray of their chest). Those found to be HIV positive or having tuberculosis will be considered medically unfit and therefore will not be granted a residence visa. They will be deported immediately by the UAE’s authorities. Residents who are detected with dormant or inactive pulmonary tuberculosis are also considered medically fit. In this case, they are granted a one-year ‘Health Fitness Certificate for Residence’ subject to treatment and follow-up by the Department of Preventive Medicine or equivalent government health authority. Hence, if you suspect to be suffering from a communicable disease it is advisable to get yourself tested in your home country first. Locate government medical fitness centres:Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah have several medical fitness centres. For centres in other emirates, contact Ministry of Health and Prevention – Preventive Medicine Department. Useful links:
- Apply for medical examination for expatriate residents’ visa – Ministry of Health and Prevention
- Health conditions for a UAE residence visa – UAE Government portal
- Resolution No. 5 of 2016 amending provisions of the Cabinet Decree No. 7 of 2008
- Communicable Diseases Bulletin (PDF 2.65 MB)-Department of Health – Abu Dhabi
Sponsoring your wife and children
An expatriate resident may sponsor the residence visa for his wife and children if he fulfils the above mentioned sponsorship requirements set by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). To sponsor his wife, the expatriate resident must prove an existing marital relationship by submitting an authenticated marriage certificate in Arabic or duly translated into Arabic by a certified translator. In strict cases, a Muslim resident may be allowed to sponsor his two wives, if he meets certain terms and conditions set by the respective GDRFA. An expatriate resident can sponsor his daughter/s only if she/they is/are unmarried. He can sponsor his son/s only up to the age of 18. If after the age of 18, the son is studying in the UAE or abroad, he can be sponsored until the age of 21 on providing the proof that he is studying. However, for his residence visa to stay valid, he has to enter the UAE at least once every six months. The resident will need to place a deposit with the respective GDRFA for his son’s visa. The residence visa is granted on a yearly basis, renewable until the person finishes his education. An expatriate resident can also sponsor his stepchildren, subject to GDRFA’s conditions which include a deposit for each child and a written no-objection certificate from the biological parent. Their residence visas are valid for one year; renewable annually. Required documents to sponsor wife and children include:
- online application or through a registered typing office
- passport copies of the wife and children
- photos of the wife and children
- medical clearance certificate for the wife and children above 18
- copy of the husband’s employment contract or company contract
- salary certificate from the employer stating the employee’s monthly salary
- legalised marriage certificate
- registered tenancy contract
- latest utility bill.
Sponsoring your parents
An expatriate employee can sponsor his parents for a year’s stay by paying a deposit as a guarantee for each parent as stipulated by the respective immigration department. An expatriate employee cannot sponsor only one of his parents. He needs to sponsor both parents together. He also needs to provide proof that he is their sole support and that they have no one else who could take care of them back home. If one of the parents has passed away or if the parents are divorced, he has to show the related official documents as justification to sponsor only one of his parents. To sponsor parents, the employed expatriate resident must earn the minimum salary stipulated and obtain a medical insurance policy for parents with the minimum coverage stipulated for each, to be renewed each year. According to the website of Dubai Government, DNRD in Dubai stipulates a minimum salary of AED 20,000 or a monthly pay of AED 19,000 plus a two-bedroom accommodation to sponsor parents’ visa. Check terms and conditions in other emirates. Useful links:
- Sponsoring your parents in the UAE – Gulf News
Woman sponsoring her family
In Abu Dhabi, a woman can sponsor her husband and children if she holds a residence permit stating that she is an engineer, teacher, doctor, nurse or any other profession related to the medical sector and if her monthly salary is not less than AED 10,000 or AED 8,000 plus accommodation. She needs to provide additional documents as stipulated by the respective authority. In Dubai, if a woman is not employed in one of these categories she may still get approval to sponsor her family if her monthly salary is more than AED 10,000 and with a special permission from the DNRD. A single mother can sponsor her child. The authorities might ask for documents similar to those required to sponsor stepchildren.
Validity and renewal
The duration of residence visa depends on the type of sponsor and the person sponsored. It is issued for one, or two or three years. Visa is renewed subject to conditions similar to those of fresh visas. The family’s residence permits are linked to the residence permit of the sponsoring expatriate employee. If the sponsoring family member’s visa is cancelled, it requires cancellation of the visas of the dependents. Dependents are granted a 30-day grace period from the date of expiry or cancellation of their visa to obtain a new residence permit. If the employee fails to renew or cancel the visa of his dependents, the dependents would be deemed illegal residents and could be liable to pay a fine.
Renewing your residence visa
Renewing your residence visa Once your residence visa is expired, your sponsor must soon renew it, if you wish to continue living legally in the UAE without any fines or legal consequences. The relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) gives residents 30 days grace period to stay on after the visa expiration. So it is advised to go ahead with visa renewal in advance. As per Ministry of Interior’s fines’ system, the penalty to stay on after the expiration of the grace period is:
- AED 25 per day during the first 6 months (180 days)
- AED 50 per day during the second 6 months (180 days)
- AED 100 per day after passing a year and more.
Remember also that by expiration of visa validity, your Emirates ID card issued by Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) gets expired too simultaneously. Requirements for renewal The conditions for renewing the residence visa are similar to those for sponsoring family members, getting a work permit and when your visa was issued for the first time. Basic requirements are:
- a sponsor with a valid residency permit
- passing a medical fitness test for those above 18
- insurance card (mandatory in Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
- a renewed identity card issued from ICA, or an original receipt that you have registered with ICA to get a renewal.
The following documents are needed:
- online application or application through a registered typing office for renewal of residency permit signed by the sponsor, whether public sector, private sector company, or personal sponsor
- original passport of the sponsored
- photo of the sponsored.
For employers working in the private sector, the sponsoring company must submit the following additional documents:
- a copy of a valid firm card
- a copy of a valid trade licence
- a copy of renewed labour card of the sponsored
- a copy of labour card renewal receipt for those who reached (60) years and above.
Those sponsoring their families: spouse, children, parents and siblings (relatives of first and second degree) must present:
- a copy of the husband’s/wife’s employment contract or company contract for investors
- a salary certificate from the employer stating the employee’s monthly salary
- a legalised marriage certificate
- a registered tenancy contract
- latest utility bill.
They must also meet the
- sponsorship requirements for wife and children
- sponsorship requirements for parents
- sponsorship requirements for a woman sponsoring her family.
Cancelling your residence visa
If you a have a residence visa sponsored either by a family member or by your employer, and you decide to leave the country permanently, your residence visa must be cancelled officially.
Getting a work and residency permit
Work permit for a new job
Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issues work permits. The employer needs to apply to MoHRE for the work permit. Check the ministry website for documents and conditions. Under Article 1 of Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015, an employee whose employment was terminated because of expiry of his contract, whether limited or non-limited can get a new work permit when he wishes to join new employment. An employee can also get a new work permit for all limited and non-limited contracts if:
- it is determined that the employer has failed to meet the legal and contractual obligations, including but not limited to failure to pay wages for more than 60 days
- MoHRE confirms that the employer has not provided work due to the firm being inactive for more than two months and if the worker reports to the ministry during this period
- the final ruling in a labour case (which MoHRE referred to the Labour Court on the basis of a complaint) is in favour of the employee and where the case pertains to early termination or outstanding wages which are less than two months of dues for end of service.
If the employee is in the UAE, he must maintain a status which allows him to transfer his residency to a different sponsor. Related links:
- Ministerial Resolution No.(764) of 2015 on standard employment contracts
- Job offers and contracts services-MoHRE
New permits for unskilled workers A new permit can be granted when both the worker and the employer mutually consent to terminating the contract during the term provided that the worker has completed at least six months’ employment. The ministerial decree notes that a new permit can be issued to a worker whose employer terminated him unfairly, without the need to complete six months. New permits for skilled workers The requirement of six months’ employment is waived if workers qualify for the skill set series 1, 2 or 3 as classified by the ministerial decree, which denotes holding a university degree, post-secondary diploma or high school diploma respectively. This is applicable if the employee fulfills his contractual commitments. Related links from MoHRE:
- Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015 on rules and conditions for granting a permit to a worker for employment by a new employer
Procuring a work visa
Procuring a work visa involves MoHRE and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate where a person is employed. The process starts with procuring a work permit for an expatriate from MoHRE. The work permit allows the holder to enter the UAE for employment and it is valid for two months from the date of issue. After the employee enters the UAE on the basis of the work permit, the sponsoring company arranges to complete the formalities of medical testing, obtaining UAE Resident Identity (Emirates ID) Card, Labour Card and stamping the work residency permit on his passport within a scope of 60 days. The work residency permit on the employee’s passport denotes that he is sponsored by the company he is employed by. After this process, the employee can sponsor his family members and bring them into the country. Read about sponsoring family members. The authority for issuing employment visas is GDRFA under Ministry of Interior. Its office is located in each emirate. Below are links to the local GDRFA offices.
Work visas – offshore
To expedite the process of work visas, MoHRE and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperationhave set up centres outside the UAE. At the centres, employees would be able to know their rights, duties and terms and conditions of employment and all privileges they are entitled to, in the language they understand. This mechanism ensures a transparent contractual relation between employers and employees and prevents any fraudulent attempt to replace job offers upon the arrival of the employee in the UAE. Who must cancel your residence visa Normally, only the sponsor can cancel your residence visa. You cannot process the application on your own. If a company decides to cancel an employment visa of its employee, it must first approach Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation with an application to cancel the employee’s labour contract and labour card. The employee must also sign this application. Then, the employer should apply to General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) for visa cancellation. The company must also cancel the work permit. For this, it must submit a letter signed by the employee stating that he has already received all his wages and end of services benefits to Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. An individual sponsoring his/her spouse, children and other dependents must cancel the dependents’ visas first before he cancels his/her own. Cancellation must be processed through the GDRFA that stamped the residence visa in the first place. How to cancel your residence visa There are two ways to cancel your visa. You can do it either through a registered typing centre or online.
- Registered typing centreThe sponsor may visit any typing office registered by GDRFA in the respective emirate. The typing centre will fill the cancellation form on your behalf and process it online through the respective GDRFA.
- OnlineAlternatively, the sponsor may process the cancellation online through the respective GDRFA or through the platforms of Ministry of Interior.
Documents required The following documents are required for cancelling residence visa through GDRFA:
- cancellation form signed by the sponsor
- if the sponsor is a company or a firm, the cancellation form must be signed and sealed by the company stamp and a clearance certificate from Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation must be attached
- the original passport of the sponsored
- original identity card of the sponsored
- if the sponsored ones are out of the UAE, the sponsor may present the original passport or a computerised extract of their residence visas. (Kindly contact Naturalisation and Residency Dept to get a computerised extract of the residence visa.)
Duration and fees Usually the cancellation process can be finalised in one day or less, if all required conditions met. Refer to visa application fees list (in Arabic). Notes: Upon cancelling your residence visa, your emirates identity card will also be cancelled and seized. After your residence visa is cancelled, you have 30 days’ grace period to either leave the country or get another residence visa. Fines do not apply during the grace period. For any information about cancelling your residence visa in the UAE, please contact Ministry of Interior via the toll-free number 8005000 or the GDRFA in the respective emirate.
What is Emirates ID?
Emirates ID is an identity card issued by Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. It is a legal requirement for all UAE citizens and residents to apply for one and carry it with them at all times. It has several uses. It can be used as an identity proof to get government services, for voting in the elections of Federal National Council, as a travel document for UAE citizens to travel within the GCC and as a document to pass immigration through the eGates and smart gates at several airports in the UAE. Read about the Emirates ID’s features and benefits. Note: As per Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, it is against the law to seize the Emirates ID card of other people. Companies are not allowed to withhold the Emirates ID cards of their employees or their customers and visitors. They are only allowed to take the personal data on the ID cards. In case of violation, cardholders should refer the case to the judicial authorities.
Getting Emirates ID
For getting an Emirates ID card, the applicant has to fill the eForm at one of the authorised typing centres or through the online form available on website of Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC). An SMS containing information about when and where to register will follow the application. The applicant will need to proceed to the registration centre mentioned in the SMS to complete the procedures. Refer to the FAIC website for the application process, documents required and fees for getting an Emirates ID for:
- UAE nationals
- GCC nationals residing in the UAE
- Expatriate residents.
Emirates ID within 24 hours
Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) provides an urgent service for getting the Emirates ID card within 24 hours. The service is known as ‘Fawri’ and is available against the regular stated fees plus an urgent service fee. The service is available for all age groups for UAE nationals and GCC nationals officially residing in UAE and can be obtained for:
- first time registration
- renewal of expired cards
- lost or damaged cards.
As for the expatriate residents other than GCC nationals, they are entitled to the urgent service only in case of replacement of their identity cards because the issuance or renewal of identity cards is linked to proof of residency and related procedures. To obtain this service, visit the FAIC Customer Happiness Centres without prior notice and present the documents specified. Fawri service is available at the following FAIC Customers Happiness Centres:
- Al Jazeera and Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi
- Al Barsha, Al Rashidiya and Karama in Dubai
- Madinat Zayed in the Western Region
- Al Ain Centre
- Sharjah Centre
- Ajman Centre
- Fujairah Centre
- Ras Al Khaimah Centre
- Umm Al Quwain Centre.
- Emirates ID card issuance in 24 hours through 11 centres – Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship
- Emirates ID urgent service – Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship
- Fawri to ease Emirates ID replacement – Gulf Today
Renewing Emirates ID
Note that after the Emirates ID expires, the ID holder must apply for its renewal. Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) will send you a notification via SMS requesting you to renew your ID card. You will need to submit your renewal application in person at an accredited typing centre or online via the website of FAIC. You might need to visit one of FAIC’s service centres or preventive medical centres to provide your biometric details. Late fines Note that if you are late in submitting ID card applications, you could be fined AED 20 per day of delay; AED 1000 is the maximum fine. Late fines are applied on ID renewal procedures after 30 days of its expiry. Late fines apply also in case of any delay in reporting any data change after 30 days of the occurrence of the change. The following links outline renewal terms and conditions for UAE nationals, GCC nationals and residents:
Newly born babies of UAE nationals born abroad The following documents are required when applying for an Emirates ID card for babies of UAE nationals born outside the UAE:
- Birth certificate – parents must obtain a birth certificate from the competent authority in the country where the child was born
- Registration – parents must register the new-born at the nearest UAE embassy/consulate before registering the new-born in the UAE
- Passport of the new-born.
Note that the Emirates ID card can be issued only after the passport of the baby is issued.
Cancelling Emirates ID
Residents who intend to cancel their UAE residence visa for the purpose of leaving the country for good or for the purpose of changing jobs, are required to hand over their ID cards to the respective General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs. The respective General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs will hand over the returned ID card to Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC), which had issued the card. Useful links:
- UAE national IDs required to cancel visas – Gulf News
For more information regarding the Emirates ID, you could contact EIDA via the ‘Ask Hamad’ service or the phone by calling on 6005-30003.