Moving to the UAE?

Connect with fellow expats in the UAE
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our UAE guides
Exchange tips about expat life in the UAE

Visas and Residence Permits for the UAE

The opportunity of settling down in the UAE is certainly an exciting prospect for most expats. However, moving to the UAE might also seem like a leap into the unknown. Let us help! Our Guide gives you info prior to your move, from facts on the Emirates to detailed visa requirements.
The entry stamp: many an expat's first taste of the UAE.

Getting a Business Visa 

In order to apply for a business visa, expats need a sponsor (an employer or UAE resident) to arrange the application for them. All visa applications should be addressed to the nearest embassy of the UAE in your country of residence. They must include a comprehensive letter from your sponsor and an application form, which can be downloaded from the Travel Center on the UAE Interact website.

In many cases, embassies of the UAE also request financial statements to make sure that the applicant is in good standing. Applicants may also be required to produce a letter from their employer, explaining the purpose of their work in the UAE. To find out more about the exact visa requirements, consult the nearest embassy of the UAE in your country of residence prior to applying.

An exception to this rule is the multiple-entry visa for people who have a business relationship with companies in the UAE and enter the country frequently to attend meetings. Multiple-entry visas are generally valid for 6 months and can be issued by overseas UAE embassies and consulates.

As of August 2014, the price for an employment visa for individuals working in the private sector, free trade zones, or for investors is 250 AED. For domestic workers sponsored by Emiratis or GCC citizens, the cost is 150 AED. A multiple entry visa for work costs 1,200 AED. You should also bear in mind that typing charges are not included in these prices.

Registering As A Resident

All expats living in the UAE, including expat spouses and children, must apply for a residence permit following their arrival. This residence permit is valid for 3 years and allows expats to register with the local Emirates National Identity Authority.

All UAE residents who are 15 years or older receive a National Identification Card (NIC) upon registering with the local authorities. This card contains personal information of the card-holder, such as date of birth, gender, nationality, signature, and blood type. It replaces national health cards, labor cards or passports and can be used for identification purposes.

If you are an expat who wishes to sponsor your family, you must be earning at least 3,000 AED per month with accommodation paid by a sponsor, or you must be earning 4,000 AED monthly. 

Political Progression 

As far as the political system is concerned, the UAE is a country without political parties or democratic elections. However, the political face of the nation has begun to change: The UAE has held its first ever limited elections in 2006 to select members of the Federal Supreme Council. The second elections in 2011 gave 130,000 citizens (up from 7,000 in the first election) the possibility of voting. In the 2015 elections, even UAE citizens who are living abroad were given the opportunity to vote in the Federal National Council elections, with polling stations set up in 94 countries around the world.

In March 2011, the UAE joined international military operations in Libya. In November 2012, the UAE outlawed attempts to organize public protests through social media and mocking of the government online. From March 2012, it detained at least 60 activists without charge.

However, as a member of the UN and the World Trade Organization, the UAE has evolved into a progressive country. Upon their move to the UAE, expats will discover an excellent infrastructure and high living standards.

Arabic is the official language in all seven emirates. Due to the many foreigners who move to the UAE each year, English is often spoken in business meetings, as well as Farsi, Urdu and other languages. A staggering 84% of UAE residents are foreign-born.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

Global Expat Guide

Top Articles Expat Guide