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How to apply for a Dubai working visa

When moving to a new country, you usually need to consider what kind of visa you will need – the UAE is no exception. If you plan to work in Dubai and are not a UAE or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) national, you will be required to apply for a visa before being allowed to live and work in the city.

There are a few different types of visa that will allow you to enter Dubai, but only certain ones will grant you the ability to legally work in the emirate.

Types of visas and entry permits

There are different types of visa1 that will allow you to enter the UAE, including:

  • Visa on arrival – this entry permit is granted to those visiting the UAE for a short period of time, up to either 30 or 90 days. Whether you get a visa on arrival or not, and how long that visa is permitted for, depends on your nationality.
  • Tourist visa – this entry permit is for those who are not eligible for the visa on arrival.
  • Transit visa – this entry permit is for those who do not qualify for the visa on arrival and who are travelling through the UAE.
  • Patient visa – this entry visa allows people, and their companions, to enter the country for medical treatment.
  • Retirement visa – this residence visa permits UAE residents to continue to live in Dubai once they have retired. If you buy a property or invest in a business in the UAE, you can reside in the nation.

Working visa

If you want to work in the emirate, you must have a residency visa and work permit (evidence of employment). In order to acquire a Dubai work permit before you move to the UAE, the first step is to find a job. It will then be your employer’s responsibility to apply for the work permit and residency visa on your behalf, as they will be your sponsor.

The process has begun once a permit is procured. Following this, the expat can enter the country and stay there for two months. It will then be the employer’s responsibility to complete medical testing, stamp the work residency permit on their employee’s passport and acquire a UAE Resident Identity and Labour Card. 

It is possible to enter Dubai with a visitor visa – such as the visa on arrival or the tourist visa – and then find a job while you are there and have your prospective employer sponsor you. However, you will not be able to guarantee that you will get a job, and you will not be able to work until your visa has been approved.

In Dubai, employers are required to provide health insurance for their employees. As the sponsor, it is their responsibility to provide a form of basic coverage. However, if you want or require more cover, or are not yet employed in the emirate, then you may need to consider local, compliant international health insurance plan.

Couple holding hands while walking on beach in Dubai Couple holding hands while walking on beach in Dubai


Husband or wife visa

If your spouse currently works in Dubai, they can become your sponsor – as well as the sponsor of any children you may both have. This will allow you and your children to live in the city and will grant you a Dubai work permit.

There are different criteria to meet as a man and a woman when applying to sponsor your family:

  • A man must earn a minimum monthly salary2 of AED 4,000 (US$1,089) or AED 3,000 (US$817) plus accommodation.
  • A woman must earn a minimum monthly salary of AED 10,000 (US$2,723) and have permission from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

It is also worth noting that it is illegal to be gay in Dubai3 and same-sex marriage is not recognised by the authorities. As such, the visa will only work if you are part of a heterosexual couple.

Student visa

While this may not seem the obvious option for a Dubai employment visa and won’t be applicable for everyone, since 20174 international students have been permitted to work part-time jobs in the UAE on their student visas. If you’re planning on moving to Dubai to work full-time, this won’t be an option for you.

How to get a Dubai visa?

You can apply5 for your visa online. You will be required6 to provide a scanned copy of your passport and a clear image of you. The UAE visa photo size is 4.3cm x 5.5cm. Proof of residency, a completed application form7 and the application fee will also be required. You may also be required to supply a birth certificate or copies of your diplomas.

If you are sponsoring a family member, you will also need to provide a copy of your residence visa and UAE Resident Identity Card with the application.

How long will my visa take to process?

Work visa

Although the UAE government does not state an advised time for processing a Dubai work visa, it suggests that it is often between two and seven working days for the entry permit. This will allow you to enter the country and live in the city for two months. Your employer will then have to complete other aspects of your application, which they have up to 60 days to do. There will also be security checks, which can be time-consuming.

Family visa

The entry permit aspect of a family visa can take as little as two days to retrieve. The remaining processes to complete the visa can take up to two weeks.

Mother holding smiling toddler daughter on beach in Dubai Mother holding smiling toddler daughter on beach in Dubai


How much will my Dubai visa cost?

When applying for a Dubai visa, cost is an added consideration. When it comes to getting a work visa sponsored by your employer, the prices range depending on the size of the workforce and the turnover of the company. The good news is that the cost of your work visa is paid for by your employer.

Visa fees for Dubai family permits can vary, depending on whether you’re sponsoring your spouse or your spouse and children.

What are the Dubai work visa medical requirements?

As part of the medical test you will undertake under the Dubai working visa requirements, you will need to take a blood test and X-ray. The tests will be determining if you have HIV, hepatitis A, B and C, tuberculosis, leprosy or syphilis, as well as checking if you are pregnant. Although the HIV, leprosy and tuberculosis tests are mandatory, the others may only be applicable in certain types of work.

The hepatitis tests will be conducted for those working as babysitters, nursery and kindergarten employers, domestic assistants, hairdressers, or those working in health clubs and restaurants.

Syphilis tests will be conducted on those working as babysitters, nursery and kindergarten employers, domestic assistants, or those working in health clubs and food outlets, such as coffee shops and restaurants.

Pregnancy tests will be conducted on those working as babysitters, domestic helpers or drivers.

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