• Jenny Hunt

What Visas Are Available In The UAE?

Updated: Jun 14

12th June 2020

If your organisation is expanding to the UAE, then sooner or later you will need some staff on the ground. If your organisation employs expatriates, either relocating them from your HQ or hiring them on-the-ground in the UAE, then those employees will all need a visa and an Emirates ID card. If those employees have families with them in the UAE then they will also need visas and Emirates IDs. Alternatively if you are an entrepreneur intending to start a business in the UAE then you might be looking to have an Partner Visa.


All expatriates living and working in the UAE are required to have a visa. There is a plethora of visas available in the UAE, so this blog intends to briefly introduce each visa type to provide a clearer understanding.


Employment Visa (Residence Visa)


All individuals who have their visa sponsored by their employer will have what is commonly referred to as an Employment Visa or just a Visa (the terms are interchangeable). It will however appear on the sticker in the individual's passport as a Residence Visa. Visas associated with mainland companies are usually issued for two years and for free zone companies for three years. However, once an individual reaches 60 years of age, a visa will be issued annually at the discretion of the authorities.


During the processing of the visa it will be necessary for:

  • the applicant to supply attested education certificates, copy of passport, previous Emirates ID, Visa and Labour Card details (if they have previously had a visa in the UAE), passport photos and various personal details

  • the job contract to be lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE)

  • the applicant will be required to have a visa medical in the UAE which comprises brief general health questions, a blood test and a chest X-ray

  • the employer is required to arrange health insurance for the applicant

  • the Emirates ID card will be applied for at the same time and is usually received within a week of the visa being stamped into the person's passport.

It is mandatory for the employer, if a mainland company rather than a free zone company, to pay the individual's monthly salary via the federal payroll system called WPS (Wage Protection System).


Mission Visa

Companies which need to bring in staff from overseas for a short period of time will likely opt for a Mission Visa. A Mission Visa is valid for just three months. It is also not flexible as it is only single entry. This means once the employee arrives into the UAE they need to stay in the UAE to complete the project up to a maximum of three months. In the instance there is an emergency overseas that they need to leave the country suddenly, they can do so, but upon their exiting of the UAE the Mission Visa will be cancelled. For the person to return to the UAE, it will be necessary to reapply for a new Mission Visa.


Spouse Visa (Dependents Visa)


The employee usually sponsors their spouse and children rather than the company. The employee must earn a minimum of AED4,000 per month or AED3,000 plus accommodation. A Muslim resident is allowed to sponsor two wives. A Spouse Visa, also commonly referred to as a Dependents Visa, will be issued for two years in the employee is working for a mainland company and for three years if they are working for a free zone company.

During the processing of the visa it will be necessary for:

  • the applicant to supply attested marriage certificate translated into Arabic, copy of passport, previous Emirates ID details (if they have previously had a visa in the UAE), passport photos and various personal details. It will also be necessary to supply documents relating to their partner is who is sponsoring their visa, including their MOHRE job contract, passport copy, attested tenancy contract (Ejari in Dubai or Tawtheeq in Abu Dhabi), visa copy, original Emirates ID card and Arabic salary certificate addressed to Immigration.

  • the applicant will be required to have a visa medical in the UAE which comprises brief general health questions, a blood test and a chest X-ray

  • health insurance to be arranged for the applicant. In Abu Dhabi it is mandatory for the employer to provide health insurance for their employee's spouse and up to three children under the age of 18.


Children's Visa (Dependents Visa)


A father must earn a minimum of AED4,000 per month or AED3,000 per month plus accommodation in order to sponsor his children. A mother must earn a minimum of AED10,000 or AED8,000 plus accommodation in order to sponsor her children. Children's Visas will be issued for either two or three years depending upon whether their father is working for a a mainland company (2 years) or a free zone company (3 years). In the instance a mother is sponsoring the children's visas they will only be issued for one year at a time. The documents will need to be submitted as per arranging the Spouse Visa, along with the child's attested long birth certificate which should be translated in Arabic. Children under 16 are not required to have a visa medical. Health insurance must be provided and in Abu Dhabi, it is the employer's responsibility for their employee's spouse and up to three children under the age of 18.


Parents can continue to sponsor daughters into adulthood, until such time they are married. However, there are restrictions on parents sponsoring sons. A son can be sponsored up to the age of 18. If at that point if the son continues to study in the UAE or overseas, the parent can continue to sponsor their son until he reaches 21. This visa is issued on an annual basis and is subject to proof of the son studying and if studying overseas, he must re-enter the UAE every six months to maintain the visa's validity. Alternatively, if the son has graduated from university, secondary school or tuned 18, the parent may now apply for a one year visa for their son which will be renewable for one further year. This should give the son time to secure work if intending to continue residing in the UAE.

Parents Visa


An expatriate employee can sponsor their parents for one year. It will be necessary to meet the following criteria to obtain a Parents Visa:

  • sponsoring both parents (it is not allowed for just one parent to be sponsored, unless one of the parents has passed away or they are divorced)

  • paying a deposit as a guarantee for each parent

  • demonstrate they are the sole support for their parents and nobody can care for them back home.

  • the employee must earn a minimum salary, determined by the government in the respective Emirate

  • the employee must organize medical insurance for both parents

  • the employee must have suitable accommodation to, e.g. a minimum of two bedrooms


Maids Visa


Only families can sponsor a maid - a batchelor is not allowed to sponsor a maid. Maids Visas can only be obtained for the following nationalities: Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipina, Bangladeshi and Indonesian. It will be necessary to meet the following criteria to obtain a Maids Visa:

  • the head of the household must be the person sponsoring the maid

  • the employee must earn a minimum salary of AED25,000 per month

  • paying a deposit as a guarantee for the maid

  • the maid must have a standard visa medical, take a pregancy test and also have a vaccination for Hepatitis B.

  • the sponsor must provide medical insurance.

A Maids Visa is usually issued for one year.

There are specific regulations governing the protection of domestic workers which the sponsor must adhere to.


In the instance the employee doesn't earn AED25,000 per month, the family can arrange a maid through a Tadbeer centre, which ultimately takes on the sponsorship of the maid. Tadbeer also offers a two year Maids Visa.



Visit Visa

Visit Visas can be valid for 14, 30 or 90 days and are ideal for individuals wanting to come to the UAE in search of work, to attend business meetings or exhibitions, to visit friends and family or perhaps for medical tourism. They can be extended for 30 days, twice.


Tourist Visa

Tourists Visas are purely for the purpose of visiting the UAE for holiday and leisure purposes. Tourist Visas can be valid for 30 or 90 days and can be either single or multiple entry.


Visa On Arrival

Every expat entering the UAE is required to have a visa or some description. Residents will already have their Residence Visas, but visitors will be required to have either a Visit Visa or Tourist Visa as mentioned above. However, if they are either a GCC citizen or one of the following nationalities, they will automatically receive a Visa On Arrival and therefore will not be required to take any action to arrange one. At the time of writing 47 nationalities could get a Visa On Arrival:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italia, Japan, China, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Vatican, United kingdom and the United States of America.


Partner Visa

Partner Visas are issued to owners of Establishments and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). Partner Visas usually provide the individual with UAE residency for three years.


5 Year Visa

5 Year Visas in the UAE are available to three categories of applicants: property investors, entrepreneurs and outstanding students. There is specific criteria which needs to be met in order to apply for the 5 Year Visa.


Criteria for applying for a 5 Year Visa for property investors:

  • The investor must own property in the UAE with a gross value of AED5 million or more.

  • The investor must own the property outright, not via a loan or mortgage.

  • The investor must have owned the property for at least three years.


Criteria for applying for a 5 Year Visa for entrepreneurs:

  • The entrepreneur must be able to demonstrate an existing project in the UAE worth AED500,000 or more OR have approval from an accredited business incubator in the UAE

The 5 Year Visa for entrepreneurs also covers their spouse and children, business partner and a maximum of three executives.

Criteria for apply for a 5 Year Visa for outstanding students:

  • The student must be able to demonstrate a grade of 95% or higher in secondary school

  • The university student must be able to demonstrate a distinction GPA of at least 3.75.

The 5 Year Visa for outstanding students also covers their families.


10 Year Visa (Golden Visa)

10 Year Visas in the UAE are available to two categories of applicants: investors and professionals with specialist talents. There is specific criteria which needs to be met in order to apply for the 10 Year Visa.


Criteria for applying for a 10 Year Visa for investors:

The investor must be able to demonstrate investments worth AED10 million or more. The investment(s) may take the following forms:

  • An investment in a UAE investment fund inside the UAE of AED10 million or more.

  • Ownership within a company in the UAE where share capital is AED10 million or more and the value of the investor's share is AED10 million or more

  • Demonstrating a total investment of AED10 million or more in the above mentioned forms; but the investment in real estate sectors can not be more than 40% of the total investment.

Further, the investor must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • The investment(s) must be fully owned outright and not via loans and mortgages.

  • The investor must have had the investments for at least three years.

  • The investor must demonstrate financial solvency of AED10 million.

The 10 Year Visa for investors also covers their spouse and children, one executive director and one advisor. Visas can be extended to include business partners, but each partner must contribute AED10 million.

Criteria for applying for a 10 Year Visa for professionals with specialist talents

The 10 Year Visa for professionals with specialist talents applies to researchers in science and knowledge including: doctors, specialists, scientists and inventors. It also applies to creative individuals in culture and art.

  • The applicant must demonstrate a valid employment contract in their specialised field which is also a priority in the UAE. Scientists must be able to demonstrate accreditation by the Emirates Scientists Council or hold a Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence.

  • Creative individuals must be able to demonstrate accreditation by the Ministry of Culture & Knowledge Development.

  • Inventors must be able to demonstrate a patent approved by the Ministry of Economy which adds value to the UAE economy.

  • Specialist talents must be documented by a patent or published scientific research.

  • Executives must either own a leading international company or hold a high academic achievement.

  • Doctors must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • hold a PhD from one of the world's top 500 universities

  • demonstrate an award or certificates of appreciation in their specialist field

  • demonstrate their contribution to major scientific research in their specialist field

  • have published articles or books in their specialist field

  • hold a membership in an organisation related to their specialist field

  • hold a PhD and demonstrate a minimum of 10 years professional experience in their specialist field.

The area of specialization must be a priority to the UAE.


The 10 Year Visa for professionals with specialist talents also covers their spouse and children.


Student Visas

Student Visas are for individuals studying at college or university in the UAE. The applicant must be at least 18 years old and have an admissions letter from their chosen UAE university. Student Visas must be sponsored by either a parent/relative or the university and will be issued for one year.


How Gateway Group can help you with your UAE visas

Whether you are an organisation or an individual needing on-the-ground assistance to manage your visas, Gateway's team of experts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are ready to help. Gateway processes all types of UAE visas on a daily basis, so we stay fully up-to-date with any changes to processes. We use clear, simple methods to keep the process as hassle free as possible for you. We also accompany all applicants to their visa medical screening, which can be a little daunting if its their first time. Once the visa is issued, we'll ensure you have all of the necessary information to add the individual to your WPS files (if you are a mainland company) and we'll also keep a track of expiries and inform you well in advance to ensure that you, your colleagues and family members always have valid visas and Emirates ID cards. Ask Gateway to manage your UAE visas.


Call Gateway Group: 600 567562

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE

Related Gateway Group Blogs

Gateway Group Of Companies

Help your Abu Dhabi and Dubai businesses stay compliant by engaging the award-winning Gateway Group to deliver our customised visas and Emirates ID services for your in-country employees. Ask Gateway to manage and maintain your employee visas and Emirates IDs in Abu Dhabi & Dubai.

Gateway Group – We’re Pretty Good At What We Do

Leading Experts in Offshore Company Formations 2020

MEA Markets


Top 20 GCC Entrepreneur (Jenny Hunt)

'Learn From the Top 20: GCC's Top 20 Share Their Secret of Success'  by author Firdouz Hameed


CEO Of The Year 2020 The United Arab Emirates (Jenny Hunt)

CEO Monthly


CEO Today Middle East Awards 2020 (Jenny Hunt)


CEO Today Management Consulting Awards 2020 (Jenny Hunt)


Best Company Formation Specialists 2019

Lawyer International


Best Onshore Company Formation Specialists – UAE

MEA Markets 2019 GCC Enterprise Awards

Best Company Formation Specialists 2019 – UAE

M&A Today


CEO Today Middle East Awards 2019 (Jenny Hunt)


Recognized Leaders in Offshore Company Formation 2019

MEA Markets


10 Most Promising Corporate Business Service Providers 2019

Silicon India


FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women in the Middle East (Jenny Hunt)

Top 20 Abu Dhabi Blogs To Follow (Gateway Group Of Companies)

#Gatewaytoabudhabi

#GatewaytoDubai

#GatewaytoUAE

#ReassuringlyHonest

#localsponsor

#companyformation

#visas

#businesssuccess

#theauthority

#sponsor

#AbuDhabi

#Dubai

#UAE

#UnitedArabEmirates

#blog

#blogger

#businessblog

#AbuDhabiblog

#Dubaiblog

#AbuDhabibusiness

#Dubaibusiness

#UAEbusiness

#residencevisa

#residencevisas

#employmentvisa

#employmentvisas

#UAEvisa

#UAEvisas

#Abudhabivisa

#Abudhabivisas

#Dubaivisa

#Dubaivisas

#visitvisa

#visaregulations

#expats

#UAEexpats

#Dubaiexpats

#Abudhabiexpats

#dependentsvisa

#spousevisa

#childrensvisa

#maidsvisa

#parentsvisa

#studentsvisa

#touristvisa

#visaonarrival

#goldenvisa

#10yearvisa

#5yearvisa

#partnervisa

#missionvisa

#visa

#uaeresidency

#dubairesidency

#abudhabiresidency

#residency

© 2020 by Gateway Group Of Companies