Navigating Dubai’s Work Visa and Permit Process: A Guide to Working Visas

If you’re a foreigner in the UAE, you must have a valid work permit and work visa to do your job legally. As an expatriate holding a work visa in the UAE, you won’t require additional visas to reside there. With a work visa, you can officially stay in the UAE for the duration specified. Now, let me guide you through obtaining a Dubai work visa.

One crucial aspect of working in the UAE is that the company is responsible for providing a work visa or work pass. You cannot independently apply for these permits or cards as an employee. If you’re interested in finding employment in the emirate, you can begin by referring to our comprehensive guide on securing a job in Dubai. Additionally, you can explore various websites and mobile applications that feature job listings. We have compiled a list of the top job sites in the UAE to assist you in your search.

Once you have identified the perfect opportunity, it’s time to proceed to the next stage. In Dubai, the work licenses are issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE). It is your company’s responsibility to apply for this permit, which will later be converted into a legal residency visa.

Once you have obtained the housing visa, the work pass allows you to enter the UAE and commence your job. The entire process typically takes around two months. During this period, your employer will arrange various requirements, such as a physical examination, an Emirates ID, a labor card, and a residency visa.

The primary objective of the residency visa is to demonstrate that the company is sponsoring you and has covered the expenses for your work permit, medical examination, and Emirates ID. Once you have obtained your resident visa, you can sponsor your family’s entry into the country and cover their expenses.

This applies not only to married individuals but also to single mothers. Men can also acquire a work pass in the UAE if their wives take care of the sponsorship process.

Understanding the Dubai Work Visa System

Before you start working in the UAE, getting a UAE work visa is crucial. There are three types to choose from: the standard work visa, the Green Visa, and the Golden Visa. The right visa for you depends on your specific situation and needs.

1. Standard Work Visa

If you want to work in the UAE, a standard work visa is what you’ll need. It’s a visa sponsored by your employer that allows you to live and work in the UAE as an employee for two to three years. After that, your employer can renew or cancel the visa.

The standard work visa is a popular choice for job seekers and employers in the UAE. To obtain this visa, you’ll need a written job offer and approval from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE).Before coming to the UAE on a standard work visa, you must accept the job offer in writing and obtain an entry permit. This permit allows you to enter the UAE and begin finalizing your work and residence visas.

2. Green Visa

The UAE introduced the Green visa in October 2022 to attract and support foreign freelancers and self-employed individuals. It grants holders residency for five years and does not require employer sponsorship.

The Green visa has many benefits, including:

  • The ability to sponsor immediate relatives to relocate to the UAE
  • A six-month grace period upon visa expiry or cancellation
  • A simplified application process

The documents required to apply for a Green visa vary depending on the applicant’s work category. However, standard required documents include:

  • A valid employment contract or self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE).
  • Proof of education.
  • Proof of sufficient income during the applicant’s stay in the UAE.

3. Golden Visa

The UAE’s Golden visa is a long-term residence permit that allows highly skilled professionals to live, work, and study in the UAE for ten years without needing a local sponsor. This type of visa is typically granted to doctors, scientists, athletes, inventors, artists, healthcare workers, and others with exceptional qualifications.

Golden visa holders enjoy several benefits, including:

  • Access to exclusive health insurance packages
  • The ability to sponsor unlimited immediate family members and support staff
  • The ability to spend a total amount of time outside the UAE without affecting the validity of their visa

The supporting documents required for a Golden visa application vary depending on the applicant’s background. An eligibility quiz on the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security (ICP) website can help determine if you qualify for the Golden visa.

Who is Eligible for a UAE Work Visa?

To legally work as an expat in the UAE, you must be over 18 years old, and your employer must meet the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization’s (MoHRE’s) standards. Here is a simplified overview of the MoHRE’s conditions for working in the UAE:

  • Your employer must have a valid operating license.
  • Your employer must have no violations of the law.
  • Your job must correspond to the nature of your employer’s business.
  • You must have at least a high school diploma.

There is no maximum age limit for working in the UAE, but employers must pay an additional fee of AED 5,000 (US$1,360) every two years for employing workers over 65.

What You Need to Obtain 10 Key Steps to Get Your UAE Work Visaa UAE Employment Visa? 

To apply for a UAE work visa, you must provide certain documents depending on the specific visa category. Here is a general list of the supporting documents required for a UAE employment visa application:

  • Provide your original passport and a copy of it.
  • Submit passport-sized photos that meet the UAE’s requirements.
  • Obtain an Emirates ID card.
  • Secure an entry permit from the Ministry of Labor (MoL).
  • Obtain a medical certificate from a government-approved health center in the UAE.
  • Provide copies of your academic qualifications, which must be authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in your home country.
  • Submit necessary documents from your employer, such as their commercial license and company card.

It’s important to note that the employer is responsible for the work visa application process and associated costs. At the same time, the employee is responsible for submitting the required documents for the residence permit.

10 Key Steps to Get Your UAE Work Visa

When applying for a UAE work visa, you can break down the process into three stages: obtaining an employment entry visa, using an Emirates ID, and acquiring a residence visa and work visa. Let’s go through each stage and its steps:

1st Step: Applying for an Employment Entry Visa in the UAE

1. Apply for Entry Visa Quota Approval

If you live and work in one of the UAE’s 46 free zones, your employer will need to apply for a UAE free zone visa, which requires the approval of visa quotas from the Ministry of Labor.

Employers in free zones have limitations on the number of work visas they can obtain, and these quotas differ among the various free zones. For instance, the quota is set in Dubai at one visa per nine square meters of office space. If an employer reaches their quota, they have the option to either move to a larger office space or apply for a quota upgrade.

It’s essential for employers in free zones to closely monitor their visa quotas and make necessary adjustments to accommodate their workforce. This ensures compliance with regulations and enables the smooth processing of work visas for employees.

2. Submit a Signed Contract of Employment 

After obtaining quota approval, the employer must submit a work contract to the Ministry of Labor (MoL) for approval. The contract must be signed and available in three languages: English, Arabic, and the employee’s native language if it is different from either of the two languages mentioned.

The employer must ensure that the work contract meets the language requirements and is duly signed. This provides clarity and transparency between the employer and the employee and ensures compliance with the regulations set by the MoL.

3. File an Application for an Employment Entry Visa

The employer needs to submit the work visa application for approval. During this stage, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) verifies that the sponsor is a registered corporate entity in the UAE. They also assess if any unemployed UAE citizens are suitable for the job and could fill the position instead of the foreign applicant. The MoL must give their approval for the work visa application before issuing an entry visa.

The employer needs to go through this process to ensure that hiring foreign applicants is justified and complies with the regulations set by the MoL.

4. Get Your Employment Entry Visa

Once the work visa application is approved, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) issues an employment entry visa, commonly known as a pink visa. This entry visa has two months validity for standard and Green visa holders and six months with multiple entries for Golden visa holders. Its purpose is to allow the employee to legally enter the UAE and proceed with the formalities of obtaining a residence visa.

Upon arrival in the UAE, the employee will receive the entry visa. In case they are unable to travel within the initial 60-day period, they have the option to apply for a one-time extension. If the employee is already in the UAE on a different visa, they must apply for a visa ‘change of status’ or make a ‘border run’ to obtain the entry visa upon arrival.

Once in the UAE, the employee should gather the necessary supporting documents for their residence visa application, such as an Emirates ID and a health certificate. Simultaneously, the employer must submit additional documents to complete the process and finalize the work visa.

2nd Step: Apply for an Emirates ID

5. Request the Issuance of an Emirates ID

As an expat working in the UAE, it is essential to obtain an Emirates ID, which is a vital document for medical screening and serves as your everyday identification within the country. Instead of always carrying your passport, you can use the Emirates ID as your identification document.

To apply for an Emirates ID, visit an Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) center. Make sure to bring your passport and entry visa with you. At the center, you must provide your biometrics, including fingerprints and a photograph, to complete the application process.

3rd Step: Get Your UAE Work Visa and Residence Visa

6. Undergo a Medical Examination

Every applicant must undergo a medical screening at an approved clinic in the UAE. The results of this checkup are necessary for applying for the residence visa. All applicants must complete a medical screening to proceed with the residence visa application. This involves visiting a clinic that the government has approved.

7. Provide an Employment Agreement

To formalize the UAE work visa, employers must upload their employee’s labor contract onto the Ministry of Labor (MoL) website within 14 days of receiving the employee’s medical screening results.

8. Get Health Insurance

All expat employees in the UAE need to have health insurance, as it is a mandatory requirement. In certain Emirates like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is the responsibility of the employers to provide health insurance coverage for their employees and their families.

However, foreign employees in Sharjah or the northern Emirates must obtain their health insurance plan. The Ministry of Labor (MoL) strictly enforces this rule and does not issue or renew work visas for employees without a valid health insurance card.

9. Secure a Work Visa and Initiate Payroll

Once all the necessary steps have been completed, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) typically takes around five days to issue the official work visa. Once the work visa is received, employees are legally permitted to start working in the UAE, and employers can begin processing payroll through the official UAE system.

10. Get Your Residence Visa

Once all the requirements are fulfilled, the employee must submit the necessary documents and their residence visa application. If the official Emirates ID has not been received yet, an application receipt will be sufficient. The residence visa has a validity of two years and can be renewed.

To reside in the UAE, all expats must obtain a residence visa, including the employee’s work visa. The residence visa is essential for living in the UAE and completing various formalities such as opening bank accounts, registering a car, and obtaining a PO box.

Key Points to Consider Before Getting a Work Visa in the UAE

One crucial factor to consider when applying for a standard work visa in the UAE is that every applicant must have sponsorship from a legally registered entity within the country. This requirement can make the process more complex for foreign companies hiring talent in the UAE.

However, there is an alternative option for companies that have not established a local presence in the UAE but still wish to employ foreign nationals. They can choose to partner with an employer of record (EOR). An EOR is a third-party organization that acts as the legal employer for your global workforce, allowing you to hire talent from outside your home country without the need to establish a local entity.

By partnering with an employer of record (EOR), companies can entrust handling various tasks, including onboarding, payroll, visa requirements, and compliance. This enables companies to enjoy the advantages of global mobility, allowing them to explore the UAE market and hire expats and locals without worrying about noncompliance with UAE employment and immigration laws.

Obtain Your Dubai Work Visa with ExpressPRO

If you are a foreign national wishing to work in the Emirates, applying for a UAE work permit or work visa is important to ensure that you can legally work there. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship is responsible for granting work permits, also known as entry permits, to foreign nationals, allowing them to enter and work in the United Arab Emirates for a specific period.

Upon arrival in the UAE, foreigners can obtain a Dubai work visa, also known as a residence visa, using their entry permit. Eventually, to fully settle in the UAE, obtaining a resident visa, including your work permit information, is necessary.If you seek guidance and assistance with visa services, ExpressPRO is here to help. We support companies registering their business with them, providing expert assistance in visa-related matters. Additionally, you can contact ExpressPRO for a free consultation with their knowledgeable specialists regarding Dubai business establishments.


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