How to apply for UAE and Dubai work visa


By Olushola Samuel

The United Arab Emirates has become an increasingly attractive destination for expatriates worldwide. Opportunities are abundant in this diverse country. Dubai, at the heart of the UAE, boasts a vibrant, cosmopolitan culture that combines work with social events, a lively nightlife, and a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities for those working in the UAE.

If you're considering living and working in Dubai and the UAE, here's all the information you need about applying for a Dubai work visa, including fees, requirements, and more.

Expatriates who aspire to work in the Emirates must obtain a UAE work permit or work visa to legally work in the emirate. A work permit, also known as an entry permit, is a document issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship that grants foreigners legal entry and employment rights in the UAE for a specified duration.

The Dubai work visa, known as a Residence visa, is issued to foreigners once they are in the country and have entered using the entry permit. When relocating to the UAE, you'll ultimately need to obtain a residence visa, which will list your work permit.

Types of Dubai & UAE work visas:

In Dubai, there is a single type of work permit, often referred to as a labor card. However, employees must first secure an entry visa, followed by a residence visa and an Emirates ID card before applying for a work permit.

Under the new UAE visa regulations, a temporary work mission entry permit has been introduced, allowing visitors with temporary work assignments sponsored by their employer or those with ties to a UAE citizen or resident to apply for this permit. Entry visas can now be issued for single or multiple entries, valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and renewable for similar periods. Requirements may include a temporary work contract, a letter from the employer explaining the visit's purpose, and proof of health and fitness to work.

Dubai & UAE work visa age limit & categories:

Foreigners aged 18 and above can work in Dubai and the rest of the UAE, provided they meet certain criteria set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). Foreign workers are categorized based on their academic qualifications or skill sets into three groups: those with at least a bachelor's degree, those with a post-secondary diploma, and those with a high school diploma. The three categories are:

category 1: Holding at least a bachelor’s degree

category 2: Holding a post-secondary diploma in any field

category 3: Holding a high school diploma

Dubai & UAE work visa requirements:

As an employee, you will need the following documents to obtain a work permit and Residence visa in the UAE:

• a valid passport and a photocopy

• passport photos

• copies of academic qualifications. (Your qualifications should be authorized by the UAE Embassy or consulate in your country as well as from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country)

• copies of the applicant’s birth certificate (and marriage certificate if applicable).

• an Emirates ID card

• an entry permit from the Ministry of Labor

• a medical certificate, issued by a government-approved health centre in the UAE.

• proof of accommodations in the UAE, such as a copy of a lease agreement

• a copy of a company card from the employer

• a copy of the company’s commercial license

• evidence that the applicant has sufficient financial means to support themselves in the UAE

• proof of payment of the application fee.

• Dubai & UAE work visa validity

Dubai & UAE work visa validity:

Initially, a work permit is valid for 30 days and can be extended for an additional 30 days, allowing applicants to stay in Dubai for 60 days. During this period, their employer must arrange a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID, and a Labor Card. These documents collectively permit legal residence and employment in the UAE and typically last for one or two years, depending on the employment contract. The UAE has also extended work permits from two to three years to reduce financial burdens and increase flexibility for workers. 

How to apply for UAE work visa and permit

To initiate the procedure for acquiring an Employment Entry Visa (commonly known as the Pink visa or Residence visa) for the UAE, the employer, on behalf of the employee must follow these steps:

1. Apply for visa quota approval through the Ministry of Labour (MOL), which must be granted.

2. Submit an employment contract to the MOL, which you will need to sign.

3. The Ministry must approve the work permit application before issuing the employment entry visa. Once approved and the visa is secured, you have two months to enter the UAE.

4. Upon entering the UAE with a Pink visa, you have 60 days to obtain a residence visa and an official work permit.

Obtaining Emirate ID

Obtaining an Emirates ID is a crucial step, as it's required for the medical screening. To apply for an Emirates ID, provide your entry visa, original passport, and a copy, and apply in person at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) center.

Obtaining Residence Visa

To apply for a Residence visa, ensure you have all the necessary documents. Once your company obtains visa quota approval from the Ministry of Labour, you can sign your contract and return it to your employer. Subsequently, your employer can apply for a work permit on your behalf, which is included in the Residency visa. Once the work permit is approved, you can officially start working.

Upon arrival at the airport, you will receive the Employment Entry Visa (Pink visa), allowing you to reside in the UAE for two months while completing your residency visa application.

Once in the UAE, undergo a medical screening and visit the Emirates ID service center (sometimes referred to as a Customer Happiness Center) to present your passport and entry permit and undergo biometric tests. The Ministry of Labor will receive your medical results and employment contract for payroll processing.

After receiving the Residence visa stamp in your passport, you can open a bank account and access government services. Ten days later, you can collect your Emirates ID card.

Please note it is the employer that arrange and pay for all these on your behalf as an employee. 

How much is Dubai & UAE work visa?:

The cost of a work permit in the UAE varies based on categories: 

- Category 1: $81.67

- Category 2 (skilled or unskilled): $136.12 to $544.50

- Category 3: $1,361.25

- Dubai work visa for 2 years: $816.75 to $1,905.75, depending on the specific circumstances.

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