Foreign nationals who want to live in the UAE long-term must have a Residence Visa. In addition, if you want to be allowed to work, you must also have a work permit for the UAE.
However, before everything, you need an employer willing to hire you and start the necessary procedure to procure your employment visa and work permit for the UAE.
The employment visa for Dubai, or any other emirate in the UAE, comes with specific rules ensuring the rights of workers are not violated.
UAE Employment Visa Rules
To be allowed to work in the UAE, you as well as the company hiring you must fulfill the following conditions:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- The license of the company hiring you has to be valid
- The company must not have any violations
- The work you do must correspond to the nature of the company hiring you
Who is Eligible for a UAE Work Visa?
Any foreigner who is over the age of 18 can work in the UAE, provided that they meet the standards set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). There is no maximum age for who can be employed in the UAE, but for workers over the age of 65, the company pays a higher fee.
Foreign workers are divided into three categories, based on their academic qualifications/skill sets:
- Category 1: If you have at least a bachelor’s degree
- Category 2: If you have a post-secondary diploma in any field
- Category 3: If you have a high school diploma
What documents do I need for a UAE employment visa?
When applying for an employment visa for UAE, you need several supporting documents, such as:
- Your original passport along with a copy of your passport
- A passport-size picture, in line with UAE requirements
- Copies of your academic qualifications. Your qualifications have to be authorized by the UAE Embassy or consulate in your country as well as from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.
- Medical certificate, issued by a government-approved health center in the UAE.
- Documents from the company hiring you, such as the commercial license of the company or the company card
As per the new employment visa rules in UAE for 2018, a certificate of good conduct is not required, until further notice.
How can I get a Work Permit in UAE?
Your employer has to obtain the work permit on your behalf. It is the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) that’s in charge of issuing work permits for the UAE. The application process for a UAE work permit is:
- The employer prints the application for the work permit at the Tas’Heel website, the Ministry of Labour’s online system
- They submit the required documents (see below)
- The Ministry reviews their application, and asks to resubmit any documents or correct any irregularities they think are necessary
- The Ministry issues the approval, which the employer can download from the Ministry website
UAE Work Permit fees
The fees for UAE work permits are as follows:
- Requesting an initial approval of a new electronic work permit: AED 200 for all categories/levels
- Approval of the new electronic work permit (the worker’s recruitment, hiring, and their Labour Card):
- Category 1: AED 300
- Category 2:
- Level A: AED 600
- Level B: AED 1,500
- Level C: AED 2,000
- Category 3: AED 5,000
- For foreign workers over the age of 65: AED 5,000 on all categories
The second category is divided into levels, depending on the ratio of skilled and unskilled workers that the company has.
In most cases, it is your employer who is in charge of covering the UAE work permit costs.
How Long Does it Take to Get a UAE Work Permit?
Upon the complete submission of documents, it usually takes about 5 working days for the Ministry to issue the work permit.
How long is a UAE Work Permit Valid?
A work permit, when you first receive it is valid for 30 days, and can be extended for another 30. This gives you 60 days to remain in the country, during which time you and your employer have to arrange to get a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID, and your Labour Card.
It is the Residence Visa in addition to the Labour Card which allow you to live and work in the UAE legally. UAE Residence Visas are issued for 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on your purpose of travel and the discretion of the UAE authorities.
How Can I Get a UAE Work Visa?
After your work permit for the UAE is approved, it serves as an entry permit, allowing you to enter the UAE on the grounds of employment. This permit is valid for 30 days, and can be extended once, allowing you a maximum stay of 60 days during which time your employer has to arrange your Residence Visa. The UAE Employment Visa procedure starts only after you enter the country.
What is the UAE Employment Visa Procedure?
After you enter the UAE with the approval you received from the MoHRE, your employer has to apply for a Residence Visa for you from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate where you are employed.
Once your application is approved, the GDRFA will affix an Employment Visa (Residence Visa for employment purposes) on your passport, and you will receive an Emirates ID, valid for the same duration as the visa. You will also receive a Labour Card, which informs the authorities you have authorization to work in the UAE.
Below are the websites of the GDRFA in each emirate:
- Abu Dhabi
- Dubai (see also Amer, a website which Dubai citizens and residents can use to apply for family reunion and visitors can use to extend their Visa On Arrival)
- Ras Al Khaimah
Can You Renew a UAE Work Visa?
Yes, you can. All types of Residence Visas for the UAE are issued for 1-3 years and can be renewed. Your sponsor has to renew your UAE Work Visa within the 30 days before it is set to expire.
The UAE Work Visa renewal procedure is similar to when you first obtained your visa: your sponsor has to apply at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the relevant emirate.
However, your sponsor may also renew your visa after it expires if it is within the UAE residence visa expiry grace period.
Getting a Work Visa for Dubai
Since Dubai is one of the seven emirates making up the UAE, the process for getting a Dubai Employment Visa is the same as in any other emirate. This includes:
- You find a job in Dubai (either while you are on a UAE Tourist Visa or through one of UAE’s online job portals and job fairs)
- While you are still in your home country, your employer applies for a Work Permit for you
- If approved, you use the work permit to enter Dubai
- Your employer arranges for you to undergo a medical exam and applies for a Residence Card for employment on your behalf at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai. They must do this within 60 days, which is how long the permit is valid.
- Your employer arranges for you to receive a Labour Card and Emirates ID Card
How much does an employment visa in Dubai cost?
The cost for a Dubai visa fee is the same as for other emirates in the UAE (detailed above). However, in most cases, it is usually the company that has hired you which pays all the visa fee, and work permit costs.
Employment visa renewal in Dubai
Your employer, who serves as your sponsor, can apply to renew your employment visa for you at the GDRFA in Dubai or an Amre center.