Dubai immigration, Visa and sponsorship schemes
Immigration policy is relatively liberal, reflecting the need for an expatriate workforce to operate and develop a fast-growing economy. The vast majority of the resident UAE population is expatriate; in general employers, particularly those located in a free-zone, have little difficulty in sourcing labour from the resident population or in recruiting and obtaining work permits from staff located overseas.
Nationals visiting the UAE from developed countries (typically Western Europe and North America) are able to obtain a visit visa valid for 30 days on arrival at ports and airports. The visit visa may be extended for a further sixty days.
Nationals from other countries can obtain either a transit visa for stays of up to fourteen days or a visit visa for stays of 30 days. The former is not extendable, but the latter may be extended twice to provide a maximum of a three month stay. Both visas require a UAE business sponsor; the transit Visa sponsor can be a hotel or business registered to operate in the UAE, whilst a visit Visa sponsor can be as per the transit Visa or an individual holding a residence Visa, provided the person is sponsoring an immediate blood relative and earns a salary above a specified amount.
Work or residence permits
Foreign nationals intending to take up employment must obtain work permits, issued by the Ministry of Labour and residence permits, issued by the Department of Immigration. Work permits, valid for three years, are issued with respect to a specific employer. The application should be completed by the employee’s prospective employer – the sponsoring company. The sponsor is required to submit:
- The application form
- Authenticated certificates of education
- A copy of the employee’s passport
- A letter of guarantee from the sponsor
It takes approximately four weeks to obtain a work permit, following which the employee may apply for a residence permit, which involves a medical examination. Once an employee has become resident, he may then apply for residence visas for his family dependants subject to certain income and status conditions. A residence visa is required in order to:
- Open a bank account
- Own a motor vehicle
- Rent residential premises
- Obtain telephone and utility connections