Like most countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) welcomes citizens from overseas that contribute to the nation. However, also like most countries, any foreign national who hopes to live in the UAE will need a visa to live and work here. This is particularly relevant in Dubai, which is the beating heart of much Arabian industry.
There are many good points about moving to this beautiful country. The weather is glorious, there is a vibrant social life, great shopping, and plenty of opportunities to mix with expats and locals. The education system is highly rated, as is the medical care – though everything does come at a price! Fortunately, salaries are usually high, so you can cope with any extra costs that you may not have in your home nation.
To find out everything you need to know about the visas and documents to relocate to Dubai, read on! Our article covers the top points, plus the most frequently asked questions.
- 1 How Can I Get a Visitor Visa for the UAE Before Moving to Dubai?
- 2 How to Get the Dubai Residence Visa
- 3 What Are the Benefits of the Dubai Resident Visa?
- 4 What Are the Dubai Resident Visa Requirements and Documents?
- 5 What’s the Cost of the Dubai Permanent Visa?
- 6 What Is the Validity Period of the Dubai Resident Visa?
- 7 What Is the Stamping on a Dubai Residence Visa?
- 8 What Is the Dubai Residence Visa Renewal Period?
- 9 Is There a Medical Checkup to Get the Dubai Residence Visa?
- 10 FAQs About the Moving to Dubai Visas
How Can I Get a Visitor Visa for the UAE Before Moving to Dubai?
If you’re thinking of relocating to the UAE, the first step would be to visit here first. In this case, fortunately, you can enter for 30 days without making too much effort regarding documentation, so long as you hail from one of the following countries or principalities:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Vatican City
Find out more on our UAE travel visa page.
Of course, if you plan to stay longer than a month, and certainly if you are looking to hold down a job in Dubai, you will need a permanent residence visa. This is usually achieved through sponsorship by an employer.
However, if you have enough money to buy property, you can instead apply for a residence permit as an investor. You will need to buy a property valued at at least 1 million AED or UAE dirham (about 275,000 USD) to qualify for this visa. The greater your investment, the longer you will be allowed to live and work here.
What Should I Know About the Move to Dubai Process?
Before you consider applying to live and work in Dubai, you should be aware of a handful of features of this process. These include:
- Before your permit comes through, you can make several visits to the Emirate with a Multiple-Entry visit visa, if you intend to stay here and make it your home.
- Make sure your visit visa remains valid for the duration of your time here. This will save you from being subject to fines or other penalties.
- Your employer in Dubai must sponsor your application to reside here.
- Once you have your residency permission all in place, you will still need a Labour Card to work in Dubai.
- While there will be fees incurred for obtaining the authorisation to stay here long-term, your employer will typically cover this.
- Before you can receive a residence permit for long-term abode as an investor, you will need to purchase property in the area outright.
- If you are planning on setting up a new business, you will need a license from the Department of Economic Development and a business registration.
Thankfully, the UAE welcomes skilled workers of all types, so it’s often relatively simple to obtain a work permit if you are eligible. All the same, be sure to follow all the required steps to avoid mishaps.
What Should Be On My Moving to Dubai Checklist?
If you are seriously considering moving to the UAE, make yourself a checklist of tasks to complete. This should include:
- Check what personal belongings that you wish to take with you are allowed in, and arrange the shipping.
- Determine where you will be living, and obtain proof of this future residence.
- Take an eye test. You will need this to transfer your driver’s license later, although you will not be able to drive until you have a residence permit.
- Obtain a signed contract of employment if you are moving for work. You can work in the country for up to 60 days on this basis while your employer arranges your legal permit.
- Take out private healthcare.
You will also need a range of other documents. Make an appointment with your local embassy to determine what these may be, or consult the list found elsewhere in this guide.
How to Get the Dubai Residence Visa
You can acquire a permit to stay:
- By working in Dubai if you have a job in the city.
- By investing in property.
- Or even if you are a recognised student.
Make an appointment with your closest UAE embassy to determine the steps for arranging your permit. You will be able to apply online if this is your preference, but it’s always best to have at least 1 face-to-face meeting.
What Are the Benefits of the Dubai Resident Visa?
Several perks and benefits arise from holding a full-time work permit and living in the Emirate. These include the ability to:
- Work in the Emirate and invest in business and property.
- Sponsor a spouse and dependent children to live with you.
- Open a local bank account and access financial facilities within the UAE, such as taking out a credit card or loan.
- Apply for a local driver’s license and legally take to the road.
- Register children for attendance in local schools.
- Access healthcare services, which are widely considered the finest in the world, though you’ll still need private medical insurance.
- Travel across the UAE (to Abu Dhabi, for example) without the need for a visa.
What Are the Dubai Resident Visa Requirements and Documents?
If you plan to apply for a residence permit, you will need the following:
- A completed application form.
- A valid passport.
- A job offer (if you’re moving for work) or deeds to a property (if you’re applying as an investor).
- 2 passport-sized photographs.
- Proof of sponsorship (if applicable).
- Proof you’ve passed the medical tests.
Failure to present these requirements can slow down your application or lead to it being outright declined, so double check your paperwork!
What Are the Dubai Residence Visa Rules?
You must hold a valid passport for at least 6 months before entering the UAE on a residence permit. If it expires, you must leave the UAE within 30 days.
If you are moving for work, your permit will be valid if you remain in the relevant employment. Naturally, if you break any national laws while residing here, you risk the revocation of your document and potentially deportation.
What’s the Cost of the Dubai Permanent Visa?
It’s not overly expensive; in fact, it can cost more to renew it. The permit costs around 360 AED – that is about 100 USD – for 3 years. You will also need to pay a deposit, and match this for any family members that you sponsor and bring with you.
Just be aware, this is not the full extent of the expenses. You will need to pay handling costs and professional fees, as well as medical costs, that demonstrate that you are healthy enough to enter the country.
If you apply for a work permit, your employer will usually pay these corresponding expenses. If you are applying under your own steam, you will obviously be liable yourself.
What Is the Validity Period of the Dubai Resident Visa?
A permit to live and stay does not have a single validity period. Different visas are available for varying timeframes. Which one you are eligible for really depends on how you obtain it.
If you invest heavily in property in the area, for example, you may be able to receive a 10-year visa. You will need to sink around 2 million GBP into the property market to earn this, though. Most permissions are granted for 3 years, renewable when this period draws to a close.
What Is the Dubai Resident Visa Processing Time?
If the immigration authorities have approved your entry into the UAE, you will not need to wait long for your documentation to come through. Typically, if all is handled efficiently, you will receive it within 4 working days.
If you are applying for a work permit, ensure your employer takes the necessary steps and promptly pays the relevant fees. Try to avoid waiting and delaying the process in any way.
What Is the Stamping on a Dubai Residence Visa?
Stamping is the final stage of obtaining residence paperwork for the UAE. It is as simple as it sounds. An official in Dubai will place a stamp on your passport, confirming that you have the legal right to live in the Emirate.
How Can I Check My Dubai Resident Visa’s Stamping Status?
You can track your stamping status online. You will need to head to the website of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai. You will need to register with the portal, which is worth doing, as you will be making regular visits to check your legal status on several matters.
To track your stamping status, make sure you have your Application Number, Transaction Number, and Reference Number to hand. You will also need to use an internet browser with translation services unless you are fluent in Arabic, as the site can switch between this language and English.
What Is the Dubai Residence Visa Renewal Period?
You can renew a residency visa any time from 2 months before it expires. As we will discuss shortly, the renewal process is usually quite fast. All the same, it makes sense to give yourself as much time as possible to avoid complications.
You have a grace period of 30 days to leave the UAE once the expiry date passes if you do not renew. Your permit can be renewed at any time of year, online or in person.
What Is the Dubai Residence Visa Renewal Time?
Residency renewals are pretty efficient if you have all your paperwork and affairs in order. In many cases, a straightforward renewal without any changes to your status or circumstances can take as little as 5 days. Even if it takes longer than this, it will usually be wrapped up within 30 days.
What Are the Dubai Residence Visa Renewal Fees?
The fees accrued when renewing are usually:
- Medical fees – approx. 860 AED (235 USD).
- EID fees – approx. 370 AED (100 USD).
- Residence permit renewal fee – approx. 925 AED (250 USD).
- Professional fees and expenses – approx. 2,625 AED (715 USD).
As always, these expenses are subject to change. If you are renewing a work permit, your employer will typically handle and swallow all the expenses. If you are an investor, however, you will need to meet these costs yourself.
Is There a Medical Checkup to Get the Dubai Residence Visa?
Yes, anybody applying to live and work in Dubai – or anywhere else in the UAE – will need to undergo a physical examination. This is called a medical fitness test. As healthcare in the UAE is only free to nationals, while expats need to pay a fee for any medical service, you will also need valid health insurance.
The medical fitness test you will need to undertake covers a blood test, which screens for disease, and a chest x-ray. You will also be checked for tuberculosis if you are looking to renew at any time.
There will be a cost implication to undertaking the medical fitness test. If you are prepared to wait up to 5 days for the results, the standard fee is 320 AED (around 90 USD). If you are in a hurry for your results, you can pay more for a faster response.
Your results will be sent by text message and email, but you must ensure that when you are cleared, that this is stamped on your passport.
What Are the Medical Test Locations for the Dubai Residence Visa?
If you need a medical fitness test to live and work here, it will need to be issued by a specialist body. You cannot have the tests done overseas or by just any doctor or clinic. Instead, you must visit one of the following locations:
- Al Muhaisnah Medical Fitness Center.
- JLT Medical Fitness Center.
- Al Nahda Occupational Center.
- Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) Medical Fitness Center.
- Knowledge Village Medical Fitness Center.
- Smart Salem VIP Medical Fitness Center (VIPs only).
The latter is interesting, as it is an AI-driven test centre. For 700 AED, you can enter the fitness centre, undertake all your tests, get the results and receive the necessary documents – and leave again within an hour! All of this can be done quickly and efficiently.
FAQs About the Moving to Dubai Visas
By now you should have a firm handle on the permits and paperwork you need to relocate to Dubai. Should you have more questions, though, read our FAQ section below to find out more! Also, if you have any further queries, feel free to contact us, as we’re happy to help.
Is Skilled Migration to Dubai Allowable, and Is It a Good Choice?
The UAE equivalent of the Skilled Migration permit is known as the Golden Visa. This lasts for 10 years and is open to doctors, PhD holders, experts in computer engineering, biotech leaders and AI or programming experts.
As is so often the case, money can also buy a Golden Visa. If you invest in property to the value of 10 million AED, you will be invited to apply for this, as long as you can prove that you intend to stay and work here.
Is There a Dubai Residence Visa for Buying Property?
Yes. The property market here is a significant part of the economy. As a result, anybody looking to invest in property can apply for a resident permit from the Dubai Land Department. Visas of various timeframes are available, but if you obtain one for 3 years or longer, you can also sponsor family members.
Of course, you cannot just arrive and claim that you are looking to purchase a property. You will need to invest at least 1 million AED for a 3-year visa, 5 million for 5 years or 10 million for a 10-year one.
You will need to take the deed of these properties to the Dubai Land Department and apply for an investor license. You will also need a trading licence from the Dubai Economic Department. Once you have these documents, you can apply and sponsor family members accordingly.
Is There a Dubai Residence Visa for Family Members?
Yes, if you hold a relevant residence permit to live here, you will be entitled to sponsor family members to live with you.
A spouse can either be registered as a dependent or find a job. Children must be registered as dependents. As they reach the age at which they seek work, they must apply for work visas with the appropriate employee sponsorship. The only exception to this is an individual aged over 18, enrolled in full-time education within Dubai.
Is There a Dubai Residence Visa for Marriage?
If one half of a married couple is a resident of the UAE and living in Dubai, they can sponsor their spouse to live with them in the country. This will be known as sponsorship for a residence application.
This spouse will be entitled to work under the regulations of a residence permit, but often only with the written permission of the sponsoring partner. A common law or civil partnership will not qualify a partner for residence sponsorship. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, you must be legally married.
Is There a Visa for Americans Moving to Dubai?
Yes. As the United States of America is on the approved list for entry into the UAE, Americans have no extra special visa requirements here.
If you hold a US passport, you will be welcome to enter for up to 30 days on vacation or multiple times on a Multiple-Entry visa within 6 months. If you plan to work, though, you will need to jump through all the usual hoops to obtain a work visa.
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Dubai Residence Visa vs the Abu Dhabi Visa?
The permit application process for Abu Dhabi is generally considered a little less labour-intensive than that associated with Dubai. Equally, though, the waiting time can be long if you’re seeking an Abu Dhabi permission to reside, especially for a spouse or family member.
How to Get Your 3,000 Dirham Deposit Back From the Dubai Residence Visa Deposit
If you decide to exit this country as your permit’s validity draws to an end, you will have up to 28 days to exit the UAE or apply for a new, different visa. If you fail to act within this timeframe, providing evidence that you did so, your deposit will not be refunded.
If you feel that you have been unfairly treated, you can raise a grievance and appeal. Place your concerns in writing and request action from your immigration officer – namely, the refund of your deposit. If this request is denied, escalate the request to the head of the office.
If this still does not result in the refund you feel you deserve, contact the Ministry of Interior. Only take this step if you are confident that you are in the right and the immigration office is incorrectly withholding your funds, though.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful ahead of your relocation to the UAE! If you’re still thinking of moving here, you can find more useful information on our Visit the UAE page, and all about the UAE’s country codes to give you a helping hand too.