Immigrating to UAE

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Business Travel

The term business visit, from an immigration perspective defines a short trip that does not require work permits and authorizations in Dubai. As such the business traveler is only allowed to undertake specific business activities allowed by Dubai legislation, during which visitor represents interest of employing company based outside of Dubai. This are the key information about Immigrating to UAE for business travel.

immigrating to uae

Business visitors must generally limit their activities and may attend:

  • auctions
  • exhibitions
  • shows
  • events commercial in nature
  • business meetings, trainings and seminars
  • conferences, discussions

In certain cases a foreign national may convert from visitor to work permit status without leaving the country. Please contact Move One to confirm whether a visit may be classified as business.

VISA EXEMPT

Nationals of the following countries may enter the UAE without a visa for unrestricted period of stay:

  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia

VISA REQUIRED ON ARRIVAL

Foreign residents in above listed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states who have had a valid GCC residence visa for at least 180 days and who are on high level professions can receive a visa on arrival valid for 30 days and extendable for 30 days with an additional 10 days grace period. Applicant’s passport and GCC residence visa must be valid for more than 180 days beyond date of entry.

Citizens of 32 countries may obtain visa on arrival valid for 30 days and extendable for 30 days with an additional 10 days grace period:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom (except British overseas citizens)
  • United States
  • Vatican

VISA REQUIRED BEFORE ARRIVAL

Other nationalities must obtain visa before their arrival to the UAE which can only be arranged by the host company through immigration authority website:

  • Single entry short term visit visa – allows 30 days of stay in UAE, but foreigner must enter the country within 60 days from the date of visa issuance
  • Single entry long term visit visa – allows 90 days of stay in UAE, but foreigner must enter the country within 60 days from the date of visa issuance
  • Multiple entry visit visa – valid for a total of 180 days with 14 days stay after each entry. For obtaining this visa business traveler must enter the country on a short term visit visa sponsored by host company and apply for multiple entry visit visa in the UAE

Business visas are non-extendable.

Short Term Visit Visa
Business Visa

Visit visa applications are arranged within the UAE through the sponsorship of UAE based company. Dubai based authority will issue either an original or an electronic visa copy.

ELECTRONIC VISA

Free zone companies must process visas through that particular free zone’s government service office which has an online system linked to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D). Companies registered with Ministry of Labor (outside a free zone) also have an online account with GDRFA-D. As a result of an online application, visit visas are issued as electronic copies.

With the electronic visit visa, a traveler is allowed to enter the UAE only if the point of entry is Dubai International Airport. Visitors entering the country through other UAE airports, must present an original visa, therefore during visa application, original must be additionally requested from authority in the UAE.

ORIGINAL VISA

If authorities are not able to issue an electronic visa or if a sponsored foreigner does not plan to enter the UAE through Dubai International Airport, an original visit visa will be issued.

In case original visit visa is issued by the authority, a scanned copy of the visa is sent by email to the traveler and the original must be deposited at the airport. Business traveler will carry the scanned visa copy but needs to pick up the original visa from the visa collection desk upon arrival.

STANDARD DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:

  • Passport copy
  • Photos (number and size depends on authority receiving application)
  • Application form
  • Health insurance
  • Educational certificate (required for certain positions)
  • Cover letter from employer including position and the reason for the visit
  • Company documents (such us trade license copy, establishment card copy, etc.)

For further details on the application documents, requirements must be confirmed with hosting company.

Upon arrival to Dubai, no separate registration is required as foreigner’s entry and exit out of the country is strictly monitored.

Visa regime for family members is defined in the same way as for business travelers. If family members immigrating to UAE are holders of passports from the 32 countries they will be granted a visit visa on arrival.

workstation

Work Purpose

In order to carry out paid activities in Dubai, a labor card is required. A labor card is valid for a predetermined period of time and allows the foreigner to hold a temporary job in Dubai. The process for obtaining work and residence authorization is variable, depending upon the company’s location. This are the key information about Immigrating to UAE for work purpose.

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Answers to the following questions will determine what immigration process must be followed for a foreign employee:

  • Nationality?
  • Passport validity?
  • Location of company (zone within Dubai)?
  • Job position and job description (according to employment contract)?
  • Estimated start date of the assignment and arrival date?
  • Length of the assignment?
  • Will family members join?
  • Respective age and nationalities of family members?
  • Does foreigner have address of residence or respective permits in any GCC country?

The main immigration rules are the same in Dubai although there are slight variations between regulations of zone authorities. Private companies may be registered with the Ministry of Labour (outside a free zone) or under a free zone:

PROCESS FOR PRIVATE COMPANIES REGISTERED WITH THE MINISTRY OF LABOR
Common scenario for an employee of private company registered with Ministry of Labor. For your specific case please contact Move One.

Ministry of Labor Approval

The Ministry of Labor needs to issue an approval allowing the company to apply for a work permit for its foreign employee. The ministry processes applications through an online system. Upon approval from the ministry, a typing office will print a document based on which bank guarantee must be deposited. Once this is formalized, the company may submit an employment entry permit application and proceed with the immigration process.‎

APPEARANCE: A4 paper size certificate

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Ministry of Labor through typing office

VALIDITY: 60 days from the date of issue

EXTENSION: Not possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: PRO/authorized representative submits to General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D)

Employment Entry Permit
Employment Entry Permit

Employment Entry Permit

The company PRO or an authorized representative must visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D) in order to apply for an employment entry permit for the foreign employee. In most cases an entry permit will be printed on the spot. Based on the employment entry permit, the foreigner will be able to enter the UAE. Within 60 days of arrival, all post-arrival immigration procedures must be completed and the residence permit must be stamped into the foreigner’s passport.

APPEARANCE: A4 paper size certificate

ISSUING AUTHORITY: General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D)

VALIDITY: 60 days from the date of issue and 60 days from the date of entry

EXTENSION: Possible for an additional 60 days

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner on arrival; must be submitted to GDRFA-D along with other requirements for post arrival service

Medical Fitness Result
Medical Fitness Result

Medical Check

Medical fitness results must be submitted to the GDRFA-D along with other requirements for post arrival services.

First time residence permit applicants must undergo a blood test to check for HIV infections and a chest x-ray to test for Tuberculosis. For work associated with health risks (such as food handlers, nannies, housemaids, and barbers) additional Hepatitis B vaccination, Syphilis and Hepatitis B test are compulsory.

APPEARANCE: A4 paper size certificate

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Dubai Health Authority

VALIDITY: Up to 90 days

EXTENSION: Chest x-ray is not required for residence permit renewal; other tests must be repeated

DOCUMENT LOCATION: PRO or authorized representative of the company submits to GDRFA-D

Emirates ID Card Registration

During the medical check appointment, foreigners will be required to complete registration process for Emirates ID Card in the EIDA centre annexed to the Government clinic where medical examination have been completed. As a part of standard registration procedure, fingerprint, photo and digital signature will be taken. Registration form which confirms that registration process for ID card have been completed, must be submitted/shown to the GDRFA-D along with other requirements for post arrival services.‎

As per current rules and regulations, all legal residents in the UAE have to obtain Emirates Identity Card.‎

Residence Permit
Residence Permit

Residence Permit

The residence permit is issued in 3 to 5 days and it allows a foreigner to reside in Dubai legally.

APPEARANCE: Sticker in passport

ISSUING AUTHORITY: General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D)

VALIDITY: 2 years

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner

Labor Card
Labor Card

Labor Permit

A Labor card is delivered by post to the company’s address within 30 days of the residence permit application. It allows the foreigner to be employed by the sponsoring company legally in Dubai.

APPEARANCE: Plastic card

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Ministry of Labor

VALIDITY: 2 years

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With company or foreigner; arranged as per company policy

Emirates ID Card
Emirates ID Card

Emirates ID Card

Within maximum 60 days of ID card application, foreigner will receive an SMS confirming location of the post office where the Emirates ID card needs to be collected.‎ Emirates ID cards are used as an identification document for all government, semi-government and private sector transactions.

APPEARANCE: Smart card

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Emirates Identity Authority

VALIDITY: For the term of the residence permit

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner

PROCESS FOR COMPANIES REGISTERED IN A FREE ZONE

Free zones implement unique laws regarding ownership, taxation and recruitment of labor. They allow 100% foreign ownership, unlike businesses in the rest of Dubai, which require at least 51% ownership by a UAE national.

Main Free Zones in Dubai:

  • DAFZA – Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority
  • DIFC – Dubai International Financial Centre
  • JAFZA – Jebel Ali Free Zone
  • TECOM (includes zones: Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai Outsource Zone, Dubai Studio City, International Media Production Zone, Enpark, DuBiotech, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Industrial City)
  • Silicon Oasis

Common scenario for a visa citizen employee working for a company located within free zone TECOM. For a specific case please contact Move One.

Medical Check

First time residence permit applicants must undergo a blood test to check for HIV infections and a chest x-ray to test for Tuberculosis. For work associated with health risks (such as food handlers, nannies, housemaids, and barbers) additional Hepatitis B vaccination, Syphilis and Hepatitis B test are compulsory.

APPEARANCE: n/a

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Dubai Health Authority

VALIDITY: n/a

EXTENSION: Chest x-ray is not required for residence permit renewal; Other tests must be repeated.

DOCUMENT LOCATION: Clinic sends to GSO

Employment Entry Permit
Employment Entry Permit

Employment Entry Permit

The company PRO or an authorized representative must visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D) in order to apply for an employment entry permit for the foreign employee. In most cases an entry permit will be printed on the spot. Based on the employment entry permit, the foreigner will be able to enter the UAE. Within 60 days of arrival, all post-arrival immigration procedures must be completed and the residence permit must be stamped into the foreigner’s passport.

APPEARANCE: A4 paper size certificate

ISSUING AUTHORITY: General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D)

VALIDITY: 60 days from the date of issue and 60 days from the date of entry

EXTENSION: Possible for an additional 60 days

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner on arrival; must be submitted to GDRFA-D along with other requirements for post arrival service

Residence Permit - TECOM
Residence Permit – TECOM

Residence Permit

The residence permit allows a foreigner to reside in Dubai legally.

APPEARANCE: Sticker in passport

ISSUING AUTHORITY: General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai (GDRFA-D)

VALIDITY: 3 years

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner

Labor Card - TECOM
Labor Card – TECOM

Labor Card

The labor card is issued simultaneously with the residence permit. A labor card allows a foreigner to be employed in Dubai legally.‎

APPEARANCE: Plastic card

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Free zone authority

VALIDITY: 3 years

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With company or foreigner; arranged as per company policy

Emirates ID Card
Emirates ID Card

Emirates ID Card

Registration process for Emirates ID card has to be done upon Residence permit issuance and collection of passport. The procedure includes taking photographs, finger prints and digital signature. Emirates ID cards are used as an identification document for all government, semi-government and private sector transactions.

APPEARANCE: Smart card

ISSUING AUTHORITY: Emirates Identity Authority

VALIDITY: For the term of the residence permit

EXTENSION: Possible

DOCUMENT LOCATION: With foreigner

Health Card
Health Card

HEALTH / SOCIAL SECURITY

  • Enrollment into the national health system is not mandatory for foreigners, however, if a foreigner would like to receive medical treatment from government facilities, a health card must be obtained. A health card entitles a foreigner to receive medical treatment at government hospitals and clinics, it is valid for up to one year with the possibility of renewal.
  • In the free zones DAFZA and DIFC, health card does not require separate application and it is issued along with the residence permit to all employees that have a visa sponsored by DAFZA/DIFC. All employees in DIFC receive a government health card upon completion of medical check.
  • A health card contains health card number, name, date of birth, photo, nationality, issue date, expiration date, bar code, name of health center.‎ Foreigner must present health card during every visit to a government hospital.

TAX

  • The UAE does not impose an income tax on wages or salaries. Sales tax is applicable to hotel services, restaurants, cigarettes and alcohols.
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According to national law, all nationals require a work permit in order to work legally in the UAE. Work permit (in the form of a labor card) allows an individual to work only for the company which obtained the permit.

family

Dependents may accompany a main traveler by obtaining a dependent visa sponsored by the family member taking up employment in the country. Dependents immigration process can only be started once main applicant’s permits are fully ready. Sponsoring family member must receive a salary of no less than 4,000 dirhams (approximately 1,090 US dollars) in order to sponsor dependents. Marriage and birth certificates are required in case of applications for family members and must be legalized.

Following family members immigrating to UAE may be sponsored as dependents on a residence visa:

  • spouse
  • unmarried daughters
  • sons under the age of 18 – when reaching 18, sons must change their status to student or employment sponsorship
  • step children and adopted children (under certain conditions)
  • parents
  • parents in-law

Employees falling into some job categories are not able to sponsor their families’ residence visa to the UAE, even if minimum salary requirement is met:

  • Cooks (Arabic cuisine cook, continental cuisine cook, falafel maker, sweets maker, pastry maker, assistant cook)
  • Certain skilled categories like welder, blacksmith, goldsmith, plumber, tile worker, painter (automobile painter), engine worker, assistant mechanic
  • Laundry worker, car washer, grave digger, grocer, salesman, waiters, office boys, butcher
  • Makeup artist, hairdresser, barber, tailor, decoration jobs
  • Drivers (pick up driver and private drivers)
  • Trainers like falcon trainer and private tutor.
  • Guards
  • Laborer (construction workers)
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  • Processing times for applications vary depending on authorities and individual circumstances.
  • Urgent process can be requested, for faster process additional governmental fee has to be paid.
  • Degree certificates are required for work permit application for almost all positions; educational certificates must be legalized.
  • Foreign documents must be officially translated into Arabic or English.
  • All non-UAE nationals living in Dubai above the age of 18 must undergo mandatory medical checks in order to obtain or renew residence permits.
  • All foreigners must have a sponsor (employer or family member) for the immigration process.
  • Public Relation Officer (PRO) or authorized representative is allowed to submit and collect all documents to/from immigration office.
  • Labor cards are only granted to employees with UAE contracts and on UAE payroll. Signed employment contract with the local entity is required.
  • Employees of private companies registered with the Ministry of Labor can start working legally once work permit approval is granted. In free zones, however, foreigners must generally wait for the issuance of their labor card in order to start their employment.
  • Foreigners working for private companies registered with Ministry of Labour in Dubai are allowed to switch jobs only after completing two years with their present employers. For earlier leave a six-months work-ban is imposed on the foreigner.
  • Work ban may be removed if an employee’s new sponsoring company hires the expat according to his educational qualification. The employee must have relevant supporting educational certificates and the new sponsoring company must pay the employee accordingly.
  • Foreigners who own a fully constructed property in Dubai are eligible to receive an entry permit valid for six months if the value of the owned property is at least one million dirhams (approximately 270,000 USD).
  • A nation-wide scheme links Emirates ID registration to visa processing. For information about Emirates ID registration deadlines please visit Move One’s blog announcement.
money

FOREIGNER

  • For a person who overstays in the UAE after the expiration date of visit or tourist visa, penalties are 200 dirhams (approximately 50 US dollars) for the first day and 100 dirhams (approximately US 30 dollars) for each following day. (Based on the fact that a tourist visa is sponsored by a tourist agency or hotel, in case of overstay of sponsored traveler, any new visa applications might be blocked by immigration authority). Agency/hotel may request traveler to pay compensation.‎
  • After the cancellation of employment permits (‎residence permit and labor card), an employee has 30 days to exit the country or find a new employer. In case of overstay, penalties for a foreigner are 125 dirhams (approximately US 35 dollars) for the first day and 25 dirhams (approximately US 10 dollars) for each following day.
  • If foreigner is sponsoring family members and their residence permits are not renewed within 60 days from the expiration date, fines will be calculated on daily basis, 125 dirhams (approximately US 35 dollars) for the first day and 25 dirhams (approximately US 10 dollars) for each following day.

COMPANY

  • If an employee enters the UAE on employment entry permit, immigration procedure must be completed within 60 days from the date of arrival. If foreigner does not comply with this time-line, sponsor (employer) will be fined 125 dirhams (approximately 35 US dollars) for the first day and 25 dirhams (approximately 10 US dollars) for each following day.‎
  • Within 30 days after the expiration date, residence permit may be renewed without having to pay any penalties. In case an employee’s residence permit is not renewed on time, sponsor of the employee is fined 125 dirhams (approximately 35 US dollars) for the first day and 25 dirhams (approximately 10 US dollars) for each following day. If employee’s labor card is not renewed within 60 days from the expiration date, the sponsor must pay 1,000 dirhams (approximately 270 US dollars) for each month.
  • In case illegal workers are found at a company during routine labour inspection, the fine is calculated based on many factors, reaching up to 50,000 dirhams (approximately US 13,600 dollars).‎
document

Vital Documents

Vital documents are official records issued by government institutions to individuals, essential as proof of identity and status. Move One offers support for the procurement of vital documents in the UAE, as well as their legalization for use outside the country.

UAE Birth Certificate
UAE Birth Certificate

A birth certificate documents the birth of an individual, naming a child’s biological parents, date and place of birth. Birth certificates may be required as supporting documents during immigration procedures.

BIRTH CERTIFICATES IN DUBAI

  • Birth certificates in Dubai are issued in Arabic, but English version may be requested in addition at a typing center next to a hospital.
  • Duplicate of a birth certificate may be requested at the Preventive Medicine Department of the Baraha Hospital in Dubai.

A marriage certificate serves as proof of an act of marriage between two individuals. Marriage certificates may be required as supporting documents during immigration procedures.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES IN DUBAI

  • Marriage certificates for Islamic marriages are issued by the Dubai Court. Duplicate of a marriage certificates are issued on the spot with the required application documents.
  • Christian marriage certificates are issued by the church where the wedding took place. Issuing a duplicate of a christian marriage certificate may require personal presence depending on the church issuing the document.
UAE Consular Department Stamp
UAE Consular Department Stamp

Public documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, criminal record certificates and notarial attestations of signatures, frequently need to be used abroad. However, before a public document can be used in a country other than the one that issued it, its origin must often be authenticated.

CONSULAR LEGALIZATION

The traditional method for authenticating public documents to be used abroad is called legalization and consists of a chain of individual authentications of the document. This process involves officials of the country where the document was issued as well as the foreign embassy or consulate of the country where the document is to be used.

*International travelers should note that immigration procedures vary depending on many factors and specific information about the transferee and / or family members. If you have any questions about immigrating to UAE, please get in touch with Move One to discuss your specific case by sending an email to immigration@moveoneinc.com.