- Dubai has a range of work visas available for those interested in working in Dubai, ranging from the ordinary work permit, to the fabled ‘Golden Visa’.
- Generally, a Dubai work visa requires sponsorship, as well as a medical certificate.
- Make sure you follow the rules for Dubai work visas to ensure that a visa is not suspended or canceled, and that the company or individual is not subject to fines.
Dubai is the largest city and region of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major world financial, travel and tourism hub, and currently ranks 7th in the world for GDP per capita. Unlike, some other Arab Gulf states (such as Qatar), Dubai has a diverse economy with less than one percent of revenues sourced in oil production.
As a major world commercial hub, Dubai work visas are highly sought after both by businesses in need of talent, and individual employees who wish to work in Dubai (many attracted by zero income tax).
Here we set out all the requirements for Dubai work visas and the steps you need to go through to acquire them. Note as a constituent Emirate of the UAE, a Dubai work visa is the same as a UAW work visa.
What are the different types of Dubai work visa?
There are several different types of work visa for Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with differing requirements for each. Here are the most common types:
- Employment Visa (more commonly known as a ‘work permit’) — this is issued to foreign nationals who have been offered a job by a company based in the UAE. In order to apply for the Dubai work permit, a valid job offer and a signed employment contract with a UAE-based company are required, and evidence of both must be provided in the application.
- Investor Visa — this is a visa available to foreign nationals seeking to invest in a company based in the UAE. This requires a significant investment in a Dubai or UAE-based company, typically in the form of shares or equity.
- Freelancer Visa — Dubai is one of the few countries to offer this kind of visa. In order to apply for a freelancer visa, the applicant must have a specific skillset or field of expertise, and must be able to prove that they are self-employed and capable of generating a substantial income.
- Family Visa — this is issued to the dependants of those holding a valid work visa, including spouses, children and parents. The sponsor of the primary visa holder must apply for the dependant visa on behalf of the family members.
- Student Visa — this visa is available for foreigners who wish to study in Dubai. In order to apply for a student visa, the applicant must have been accepted into a recognized educational institution in the UAE and be able to provide proof of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses. While working on this visa is possible, the student will need to apply for a separate work permit in order to do so.
- Golden Visa — this is a long-term residence visa enabling foreign talent to live, work or study in the UAE with extensive benefits including multiple entries on the initial visa and a long-term, renewable residence permit for 5 or 10 years. There are different categories for entry on this visa including investor, talent, entrepreneur, and skilled professional categories.
What is the process for applying for a Dubai work visa?
To apply for a work permit (also known as a work visa) in Dubai or the UAE, the following process should be followed:
- Acquire a job offer and employment contract: The employee needs to receive a valid job offer and employment contract from an Emirati company.
- Submit to a medical examination: The prospective employee will need to undergo a medical examination at a government-approved health center, in order to obtain a “Fit to Work” certificate.
- Apply for the visa — the employer can then sponsor the employee’s visa application, which is typically done through the online Government portal. The employer will need to submit the employee’s personal information, passport details, and the aforementioned “Fit to Work” certificate.
- Wait for approval — once the visa application has been submitted, the UAE authorities will review and process the application. If approved, the work permit will be stamped into the employee’s passport, and the employee will also receive an electronic visa (eVisa)
- Apply for the Emirates ID card. This gives valid visa-holders access to a range of government-services.
Dubai work visas — pay attention to UAE visa rules
Breaching Dubai visa rules can result in fines, and will generally result in the suspension or cancellation of the visa. So it is critical that any company intending to sponsor Dubai or UAE-based employees, follow the applicable visa rules.
Companies interested in hiring employees in Dubai should consider the benefits of visa assistance from a top global mobility firm.
The cost ranges from AED 250 to AED 3,450, depending on the company’s classification: A, B or C. This classification is based on the company's history of visa compliance.
Yes. A Dubai work visa gives visa-holders the right to work in any UAE emirate.