Want to visit, work or invest in the UAE? Here are all your options.
Dubai: Want to live in the UAE without a sponsor or visit the UAE multiple times on just one visa?
The UAE’s visa and entry permit system offers all these options, along with long-term residency visas for special categories and visas for investors and entrepreneurs.
Whether you are planning a holiday, looking for a job to live in the UAE or want to set up a business, here are all your visa options.
Before you plan on travelling to the UAE, you must check if you need to apply for a visit visa in advance, since some nationalities can get a visa on arrival.
If you want to know if you are eligible for a visa on arrival, click here.
If you are not eligible for visa on arrival, here are your options:
If you have a short layover at an airport in the UAE, you can apply for a 48-hour or 96-hour transit visa. You could get the visa through the UAE-based airline you are travelling with, or a travel agency.
However, it is important to note that transit visas are not extendable or renewable, and you must leave the UAE within 48 or 96 hours from arrival.
Depending on how long you are planning to spend your holiday in the UAE, a 30-day or 90-day tourist visa can be issued and it will allow you single or multiple entries. You can apply for a tourist visa through:
• An airline
• Travel agencies or hotels
• Family or friends who can sponsor the tourist visa
• The online platforms of immigration authorities in the UAE – Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security (ICP), or General Directorate of Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai.
For an in-depth guide on how you can get a tourist visa, click here.
If you regularly visit the UAE for business purposes or have family and friends here, opting for a long-term multiple entry visa is an easy way to visit the UAE without having to apply for a new entry permit every time.
You can apply for the five-year multiple entry tourist visa through ICP’s official website – icp.gov.ae.
As per the ICP website, a tourist on this visa can stay for up to 90 days on each visit. This can be extended for another 90 days.
One of the main requirements of the five-year multiple entry visa is to provide a bank statement for the past six months with a balance of at least $4,000 (Dh14,700) or its equivalent in foreign currencies.
This visa is available to residents of GCC countries and their family members. You can apply for the GCC e-visa online through the ICP or GDRFA website. If you are applying for the visa you must make sure your GCC residency visa and passport is valid for at least three months from the date of arrival.
The entry permit is valid for 30 days from the date of issue and you are allowed to stay for 30 days from the date of entry. To learn more about how to apply for GCC residents e-visa, click here.
The new job seeker visa which will come into effect on October 3, 2022, allows people to come to the UAE without the need of a sponsor or host to explore work, investment and business opportunities.
To apply for the visa, you must meet the following requirements:
• Those classified in the first, second or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
• Fresh graduates of the top 500 universities in the world
• The minimum educational level of the applicant should be a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
If you want to work and live in the UAE, you need to make sure you have secured an offer letter from a company in the UAE. Once you have accepted and signed the offer letter, the company will first issue an entry permit to allow to travel to the UAE.
Once you reach the UAE, your employer will then begin the visa application process. This involves getting your medical fitness test, giving your fingerprint biometric for the Emirates ID, getting the visa stamped on your passport and the Emirates ID delivered to you.
For a step-by-step process on the UAE residence visa application, click here.
Also, it is important to note that according to the UAE Labour Law, the employer is required to cover all the recruitment and visa-related costs.
If you want to bring your family, spouse or children over to the UAE, you can sponsor their residence visa if you are employed in the UAE, an investor or business owner in the UAE or a property owner in the UAE.
If you are looking for long term residency options in the UAE, the UAE government recently expanded the categories eligible for the long term visa in April 2022.
The Golden Visa allows eligible residents to stay in the UAE for 10 years, and sponsor family members including spouse, children and support staff for the same duration.
Here are the list of categories that are eligible for the visa:
Exceptional talents in the fields of:
• Culture and art
• Investors and innovators
• Digital technology
• Other vital fields
Scientists and professionals
• Chief executives and senior officials
• Science professionals
• Engineering professionals
• Health professionals
• Education professionals
• Business and Administration professionals
• Information technology professionals
• Legal, social and cultural professionals
Outstanding students and graduates
• Best performing students in secondary schools
• Best graduates from UAE universities
• Graduates of best 100 universities worldwide
• Distinguished members of international and regional organisations
• Outstanding members of associations of public benefits
• Recipients of recognition awards in humanitarian fields
• Distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts
• Frontline workers who made extraordinary efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you do fall under the eligible categories and are interested in applying for the Golden Visa, read our guide here, which will give you a breakdown on the entire process.
The green visa is a five-year residency permit in the UAE that does not require a sponsor. With the Green Visa you can sponsor first degree relatives and have a six-month grace period after visa cancellation or expiry.
The Green Visa will come into effect on October 3, and these are the groups eligible to apply for the visa:
• Applicant should obtain a freelance/self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
• Minimum educational level should be bachelor’s degree or specialised diploma.
• Annual income from self-employment for the previous two years should not be less than Dh360,000, or that the applicant proves financial solvency throughout his or her stay in the country
• Applicants should have a valid employment contract.
• They should be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per MOHRE.
• Minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
• Salary should not be less than Dh15,000.
Investors and partners
• Under this category, too, a sponsor will not be required for the holder of the Green Residency.
In the past few years the UAE has become an attractive destination for higher education because of its large selection of international universities, a diverse student body, and a safe environment for students.
The student visa in the UAE, is sponsored by the university but the student visa application is processed and issued by the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in each Emirate.
A student visa is valid for one year. To renew the visa, the student is required to provide an official proof of continuation of study from his or her university.
The retirement visa is issued by Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), which means it’s only issued and valid in Dubai. Other Emirates have not launched a retirement visa yet.
The retirement visa is valid for five years and the retiree must be at least 55 years old to apply.
If you planning on setting up a business or are listed as a shareholder in the company. In that case, you can apply for a regular investor visa. A company shareholder visa is valid for three years.
The UAE also offers the Golden Visa to individuals who invest in real estate in the UAE, however, they must meet one of the requirements to apply for the Golden Visa:
• Real estate investors can obtain a Golden Visa when purchasing a property that is worth at least Dh2 million.
• Investors are also entitled to obtain a Golden Visa when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks.
• Investors can also obtain a Golden Visa when buying one or more off-plan properties of no less than Dh2 million from approved local real estate companies.
If you are an entrepreneur that is planning to set up a company or invest in a start-up based in the UAE, you can apply for a Golden Vvisa, as long as you meet one of the following conditions:
• An entrepreneur should own or be a partner in a start-up registered in UAE in the category of small and medium enterprises (SME), which generates annual revenues of not less than Dh1 million.
• In addition, obtaining approval for a start-up idea from an official business incubator (an organisation that helps start-ups or entrepreneurs to develop their business) or from the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities.
• If the person is a founder or one of the founders of a previous project that was sold with a total value of not less than Dh7 million. The approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas.
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