UAE Residence Visa

UAE Residence Visa

Individuals from abroad who intend to establish long-term residence and employment in the United Arab Emirates require a UAE Residence Visa. This type of visa offers various advantages, including:

  1. The ability to open a bank account
  2. Eligibility for obtaining bank loans, whether for personal or car purposes
  3. Visa-free access to numerous countries
  4. Enrollment of your children in government or private schools
  5. The opportunity to obtain a driver’s license
  6. Access to government healthcare services and health insurance

Nonetheless, to qualify for a UAE Residence Visa, you must meet specific eligibility criteria, which may involve securing employment or making an investment in one of the emirates.

UAE Residence Visa

Who qualifies for a UAE Residence Visa?

In order to be eligible for a UAE Residence Visa, you must fit into one of the following categories:

  1. You intend to work in the UAE, whether in a governmental office or a private company.
  2. You are enrolled in a UAE educational institution for study purposes.
  3. You are considered a dependent if you are related to either a UAE citizen or a foreign resident, which encompasses children, parents, domestic workers, or close relatives.
  4. You have undertaken an investment in the UAE.
  5. You have acquired property in the UAE.
  6. You plan to retire in the UAE.

Types of UAE Residence Visas

UAE Residence Visas are categorized based on the purpose of travel, including:

  1. UAE Work Visa: This visa is granted to foreigners who secure employment in the UAE and obtain a Work Permit.

  2. UAE Student Visa: Designed for foreign nationals accepted into UAE educational institutions for academic pursuits.

  3. UAE Family Visa: Issued to close family members of UAE citizens or foreign residents.

  4. UAE Investment Visa (long-term residence): Reserved for foreign nationals making significant investments in the UAE. This visa has a longer duration compared to other residence visas, lasting up to ten years.

  5. UAE Retirement Visa: Available to elderly foreigners who wish to retire in the UAE and possess the financial means to do so.

  6. Work Remotely from Dubai Program: Designed for foreign freelancers who wish to work remotely in Dubai.

What are the prerequisites for obtaining a UAE Residence Visa?

When applying for a UAE Residence Visa, you’ll need various supporting documents, including:

  1. The UAE Visa Application Form, which can be obtained online or through the relevant typing center.
  2. Your original passport.
  3. Two passport-size photos that meet UAE visa photo requirements.
  4. Your entry visa.
  5. Evidence of your sponsor’s legal residency or UAE citizenship.
  6. Documentation confirming you have successfully undergone a medical fitness test.
  7. Proof of having a UAE health insurance plan.
  8. For family visas, include documents that establish family ties, such as birth or marriage certificates.
  9. For a work visa, your sponsor should provide the work contract and copies of the company’s valid trade license and firm card.
  10. Any additional documents specific to the purpose of your travel. For more details, refer to:
  • UAE Work Visa
  • UAE Family Visa
  • UAE Student Visa
  • UAE Investment Visa
  • UAE Retirement Visa

Please note that all foreign nationals applying for a Residence Visa in the UAE are required to pass a medical examination to confirm their fitness.

UAE Residence Visa application

To obtain a Residence Visa in the UAE, you must apply after your entry into the country, which requires initially entering with an entry permit. It’s important to note that, similar to the entry permit process, in the majority of cases, you cannot personally apply for your own Residence Visa. Instead, you will need a sponsor, such as your employer or spouse, to submit the application on your behalf

Who can apply for my UAE Residence Visa?

A Residence Visa application in the UAE must be made through a sponsor, although there are specific situations where you can act as your own sponsor:

  1. For a UAE Work Visa, your sponsor is your employer.
  2. In the case of a UAE Student Visa, your educational institution acts as your sponsor.
  3. When applying for a UAE Family Visa, a family member serves as your sponsor.
  4. If you are an investor or property owner in the UAE, you have the option to apply on your own behalf, with your company or property acting as your sponsorship entity.
UAE Residence Visa

How to apply for a UAE Residence Visa?

To initiate the process, your sponsor must obtain an Entry Permit for you from one of the following authorized entities:

  1. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship
  2. The ICA’s eChanel portal
  3. The dedicated mobile applications available for Apple and Android devices
  4. The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), either through their online portal (refer to the specific websites below) or in-person. In case of an in-person application, it should be processed through one of the licensed typing centers affiliated with GDRFA in each Emirate or through one of the Amer centers in Dubai.

Mobile apps for GDRFA Dubai are available for Apple and Android devices.

Once you have entered the UAE, your sponsor will proceed to apply for your Residence Visa at the relevant Emirate’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), where you will be residing. During this application, they will be required to pay a UAE Residence Visa fee, the amount of which depends on the duration of your visa.

Upon approval of your application, the GDRFA will stamp your Residence Visa onto your passport, and you will be issued an Emirates ID, which is valid for the same duration as your visa.

For more information and to access the respective websites of the GDRFA in each Emirate, please refer to the following links:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Dubai (You can also explore Amer, a platform for Dubai citizens and residents for family reunion applications and visitor visa extensions)
  • Sharjah
  • Ajman
  • Ras Al Khaimah
  • Fujairah

UAE Residence Visa fees

The fees for a UAE Residence Visa vary based on the duration of the visa granted. For a one-year UAE Residence Visa, the fee is AED 100.

In addition to this, you will be required to pay a processing fee, the amount of which depends on whether you are applying in person or online. This processing fee may range from AED 70 for in-person applications to AED 40 for online applications.

It’s important to note that visa fees are subject to change, and you should be prepared to cover additional expenses for medical examinations and health insurance as well.

The difference between the UAE Entry Permit and Residence Visa

The distinction between the Entry Permit and Residence Visa for the UAE is quite straightforward:

  1. The Entry Permit grants permission for the holder to enter the UAE, but it remains valid for a limited duration, typically up to three months. Entry permits are issued based on the purpose of your visit. For instance, a UAE Tourist Visa is a type of entry permit.

    Your sponsor is responsible for applying for your entry permit before your arrival in the UAE. Once you are in the country on an entry permit, your sponsor can then proceed to apply for your residence visa.

    Furthermore, some nationalities do not require an entry permit or can obtain one upon arrival. Essentially, if you are exempt from needing a UAE Tourist Visa, you may not need an entry permit since they serve a similar purpose.

  2. The Residence Visa, on the other hand, allows the holder to reside in the UAE on a long-term basis. After your entry into the country, your sponsor must apply for your residence visa through the specified visa-issuing authorities, as mentioned earlier.

What is the duration of stay permitted with a UAE Residence Visa?

The validity of UAE Residence Visas varies according to the purpose of your visit. These visas are typically issued for durations of 1, 2, or 3 years and can be extended through renewal.

Additionally, Investment Visas and Retirement Visas offer longer durations, ranging from 5 to 10 years, and they are also eligible for renewal.

Getting a UAE Residence Visa renewal before expiry

Your sponsor must initiate the renewal of your Residence Visa within the 30-day window leading up to its expiration date.

Moreover, it is possible for your sponsor to renew your visa even after it has expired, as long as it falls within the UAE residence visa expiry grace period.

The UAE residence visa renewal process closely resembles the initial application process: your sponsor is required to submit the renewal application at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the pertinent emirate.

What’s the UAE Residence Visa expiry grace period?

The UAE authorities provide expatriates with a 30-day grace period from the date their visa expires. During this period, even if your visa has lapsed, you are permitted to stay in the country for an additional 30 days. However, if you have not secured a visa renewal within this grace period, you are required to exit the country and re-enter using an entry permit.

It’s important to note that staying beyond the grace period will result in fines, with penalties imposed for each day of overstay.

UAE Residence Visa overstay fee

The charges for exceeding the validity of your UAE Residence Visa are as outlined below:

  • For the initial 6 months (180 days): AED 25 per day
  • For the subsequent 6 months (180 days): AED 50 per day
  • For each day beyond the first year: AED 100 per day

Renewing UAE Visas for Divorced Women and Widows

Effective from October 2018, the UAE government introduced a new immigration regulation that permits widows and divorced women of UAE residents to remain in the country without a sponsor for a period of one year, commencing from the date of their husband’s passing or their divorce. This rule extension also encompasses the children of these women, if any.

To meet the eligibility criteria, these women and/or children must have held valid visas under their husband’s sponsorship at the time of his demise or the divorce. The application process involves submission of the following documents to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA):

  1. Proof of death or divorce (as applicable)
  2. Documentation confirming their accommodation arrangements
  3. Evidence of the woman’s financial capability to support herself
  4. The Emirates ID Card
  5. Medical fitness certificates

It is important to note that this type of visa extension can only be renewed once.

What Occurs If I Depart the UAE for Over 6 Months? (UAE Re-entry Rules)

If you are residing in the UAE with a residence permit and depart the country for a period exceeding six months, your permit becomes void. Re-entry into the country will necessitate a fresh permit application. In such a scenario, your sponsor can apply on your behalf to secure a new residence permit.

However, there are specific categories exempt from the six-month residence rule, including:

  1. Golden visa holders and their family members (holders of 10-year visas).
  2. Government employees residing abroad for medical reasons or work assignments.
  3. Investors possessing residence permits under approved classifications.
  4. Spouses of Emirati citizens sponsored by their marital partners.
  5. Individuals sponsored by UAE embassies or consulates.
  6. International students enrolled abroad (if they are residing in Dubai).
  7. Domestic employees accompanying their employers on overseas assignments.