Many foreign citizens are interested in coming and applying for residency in Dubai. One can obtain residency in Dubai or in another emirate in UAE if sponsorship by an employer is provided. The Dubai residence visa must be renewed every three years. Another way to obtain residency in Dubai is by purchasing real estate. Once a person obtains residency, he or she will also be allowed to open a bank account in Dubai.
Our company formation consultants in Dubai can advise on the main ways of obtaining residency in the Emirate or in another part of UAE. With a vast experience in various corporate matters, you can also rely on our specialists if you need guidance in opening a company in Dubai.
Who can apply for a residence permit for the UAE?
There are several conditions under which a foreigner can apply for a residence permit in the UAE. These conditions also depend on the applicant’s nationality. The following requirement must be met when applying for a Dubai residence permit:
- citizens of other nationalities than Gulf Cooperation Council countries are required to apply for a residence permit when moving to Dubai;
- in case of a residence visa obtain through employment, it will be the employer to apply for the visa on behalf of the foreign citizen;
- the residence visa is necessary for various actions, such as setting up a bank account in Dubai, or buying various goods, including automobiles;
- the validity of the passport when applying for the Dubai residence visa must of at least 6 months.
Our Dubai company formation consultants can offer detailed information on all the benefits a foreign citizen can obtain once he or she has obtained a residence permit for the UAE.
New requirements for obtaining a residence visa for Dubai
In 2018, the UAE government has changed a few of the requirements related to obtaining Dubai residency. Under the new conditions, foreign citizens applying for a residence permit based on a work contract must also submit a certificate of good conduct which must be obtained from their countries of residence. In the case of those who change jobs, this certificate is not required.
A new requirement for foreign citizens applying for residence permits is having a valid email address, they will be sent an email by the local authorities in which they will be notified about their visas.
Relocating to a free zone in Dubai
It should be noted that not all residency regulations apply in the case of foreign citizens moving to a Dubai free zone. The free zone authorities are in charge of the issuance of residence permits which are easier and faster to obtain here.
In the case of residence permits obtained through employment, the free zone authorities will issue the visas as soon as the employed submit all the documents required to start working, while in the case of company incorporation of a company in a Dubai free zone, the residence permit is part of the registration procedure.
Obtaining residency through employment in Dubai
The most common reasons foreign citizens apply for residency are when starting to work for a company in Dubai or when joining other family members who work and live in the city. Apart from the employer’s sponsorship, a foreign citizen may also obtain residency, if a UAE national will sponsor him or her when moving to Dubai.
In the first instance, a foreign citizen will be issued an entry permit that will allow him or her to move to Dubai before the residency permit is authorized. If the employer applies for the foreign citizen’s entry visa, the Dubai company must also apply for permission to hire a foreigner and must submit its business license. The entry permit has a limited validity of only 2 months, which is why residency must be obtained within this timeframe.
Expatriates sponsoring family members for obtaining a Dubai residence visa must have a monthly income of at least 3,000 AED, if the accommodation is provided by the employer, or at least 4,000 AED per month, if the sponsor has his or her own property.
The video below shows the main ways to obtain residency in Dubai:
Residency by buying a property in Dubai
Another way of obtaining a residence visa for Dubai is by purchasing real estate. Even if this option is available for individuals with a high income, it is very common for foreign enterprisers to acquire Dubai residency by investing in real estate.
The conditions for obtaining a residence visa this way is for the property to be completed upon the purchase and its value must be of at least 1 million AED (approximately 275,000 USD). A residence visa obtained by purchasing a property in Dubai has a two-year validity period and does not grant the right to work in the Emirate. However, its main advantage is that the owners are not required to register a company in Dubai.
Obtaining residency through company registration in Dubai
Perhaps the most popular way of obtaining Dubai residency is by registering a company in the Emirate or in one of its free zones. If opening an onshore company implies sponsorship from the local partner, the registration of a company in a Dubai free zone provides for full ownership of the company. This type of residency visa allows a foreign citizen to be a shareholder in a local company and also to hire employees in Dubai.
The validity of a residence visa obtained by company incorporation in Dubai is three years and can be renewed. Our Dubai company formation representatives can assist with the documents related to opening companies in the Emirate or any of its free zones. We can also help you obtain residency in UAE.
Obtaining Dubai residence for family members
Most foreign citizens relocating to Dubai are also interested in applying for visas for other family members. They should know that they can obtain a residence visa for close family members, such as spouses and children and even parents.
The applicant must also meet certain criteria in order to be allowed to bring family members into Dubai. Among these, his or her salary must be at least 4,000 AED or 3,000 AED but additional funds will be required for accommodation purposes.
In the case of those seeking to bring their parents, the employer can sponsor the employee, however, the minimum salary requirement is 10,000 AED.
In order to bring one’s family to Dubai, the residence permit holder must first apply for an entry residence visa on their behalf – this procedure must begin 30 days before their arrival.
When it comes to the documents required to obtain residence permits for family members, the applicant’s marriage certificate and salary pay slip must be submitted together with information about the family member’s identification papers.
The conditions for obtaining Dubai residency are no longer that stringent, which is why the number of foreigners relocating to the UAE has increased. The government also encourages foreign citizens moving here for work or business purposes through various incentives.
Documents required when applying for residency in Dubai
Together with the relevant application form, a foreigner applying for residency in Dubai must also submit copies of the valid passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, and marriage certificate if applicable. The applicant must also submit copies after all qualifications. It is also possible for the authorities to request details on previous work experience and references from former employers.
The applicant will also undergo a medical exam prior to his or her employment. A medical examination will be necessary every time the residence permit is renewed.
How much does it cost to obtain Dubai residency?
The procedure of obtaining a residence visa for Dubai is subject to certain fees, depending on the type of permit to be obtained. These costs can imply:
- the service fees which refer to obtaining the visa processing fee, the knowledge, and innovation fee;
- the fee related to obtaining the medical certificate after the medical evaluation;
- the fee for obtaining an e-residence permit or for changing the expiring visa;
- the bank fees and the fee related to having the Ministry of Labor approved the work visa.
In the case of those applying for a residence permit based on employment, the Dubai company hiring them must also deposit a guarantee which will transform them into sponsors. This is why, most of the times, all the costs associated with obtaining a Dubai residency cannot be calculated exactly.
The processing time for residency visas has decreased during the last years and, for quick and simple application procedures, you may request the services of our company incorporation agents in Dubai.
The validity of work and residence permits in Dubai
One of the most important criteria to be considered when deciding to apply for a work or residence permit in Dubai is the validity period of the visa.
For example, the purchase of real estate property comes with a residence permit which has a 2-year validity period. Compared to this, work visas are usually granted for a period of 2 years and can be renewed.
The residence permit by opening a company is the easiest to obtain and the validity of the visa depends on the investment made. However, it can be renewed. The procedure for opening a residence visa when opening a free zone company in Dubai is the fastest and is part of the registration procedure of the business.
Rules to obtain a work permit in Dubai
The residence or the work permit is issued once a local sponsor is provided and offers a foreigner the full right to stay in the Emirates for an unlimited period of time. A work permit in Dubai comes with a new identification card which can be used instead of the ones issued in the home country.
Furthermore, a person who wants to work in Dubai and applies for a legal permit in this matter must prepare:
- copies of the passport, birth, and marriage certificate,
- proof of financial statements,
- the employment contract,
- a lease agreement to provide information about the address in Dubai.
We remind that your sponsor or employer in Dubai can apply for a work permit on your behalf, but complete assistance and details about the legislation in this matter can be obtained from our attorneys in Dubai.
The benefits of a work permit in Dubai
The work visa in Dubai comes with several advantages, where the future employee can bring the family members to the Emirates. The same permit can grant any foreigner the possibility of staying in the country permanently. Even more, one should know that a residence or a work permit is issued for two years and can be renewed without a time limit or restrictions. Please consider that an entrance once in six months is necessary, in order to preserve the validity of the residence visa.
Obtaining UAE citizenship
One of the simplest ways of obtaining UAE citizenship is by marrying an UAE citizen. Foreigners married to Emiratis may acquire UAE citizenship if the marriage lasts for at least three years. After ten years of marriage, a foreign citizen will usually be naturalized. Another way of obtaining an UAE passport is if after years of work within a Dubai company, the employer decides to offer the employee with an indefinite work or residence permit.
Naturalization in the UAE
Even it does not grant UAE citizenship, naturalization is another way of gaining the right to live in the Emirates. In order to be naturalized, foreign citizens must fulfill certain criteria. Arab citizens must have lived in the UAE for at least 30 years before being naturalized. However, any foreigner may acquire UAE citizenship without any limitation if they have provided honorable services and if:
- they legally work in one of the Emirates,
- have a good reputation,
- speak the Arabic language,
- have no criminal record.
Children of Emirati women may apply for UAE passports once they turn the legal age of 18.
Obtaining a UAE passport
All immigration and citizenship matters are handled by the Department of Naturalization and Residency, also known as the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs. The Department issues all employment and residence visas for foreign citizens establishing in the UAE. Once become an UAE citizen one will apply for an UAE passport with the local government of the Emirate they will live in. To obtain the UAE passport they will have to lodge an application form and turn in their old passport.
Our company registration agents have an extensive knowledge on how to obtain a residence visa for Dubai and can also help foreign investors who want to set up businesses here.