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24 March, 2020

5 Types of Visas in UAE – All You Need to Know

Home to highly competitive investments and businesses, the UAE holds a positive outlook towards international entrepreneurs, investors and job seekers. In addition to great business and employment opportunities, the UAE offers a host of benefits to the investors and entrepreneurs such as lucrative businesses, career growth, great work-life balance, and a luxurious lifestyle.

While the opportunity of moving an existing business to the UAE or starting a new one is certainly exciting, it also comes with a lot of legal formalities and paperwork.

Here is a quick overview of the different types of visas that one can obtain from the UAE:

1. Visit Visa:
If you have any of your family members, relatives or friends as resident of the UAE, they can sponsor your visit visa. Residents can apply for your entry permit at the office of the Ministry of Interior or at the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA), also called the Immigration department. The GDFRA offices are located in each emirate of the UAE. There are two types of visit visas – short-term visit visas (allowing you to stay for up to 30 days), and long-term visit visas (allowing you to stay for up to 90 days).
Once the visit visa is issued, your sponsor needs to send you a copy of the entry permit via fax or email and submit the original copy of the permit to the airport authorities. You need to carry the permit copy with you at the time of de-boarding so that the airport authorities can crosscheck. If you do not carry the copy of the permit, you would not be allowed to enter the country. As a visitor, you are not permitted to work, unless you seek and formally obtain employment and convert into a resident status.

2. Tourist Visa:
Tourist Visas are entry permits that eligible individual tourists from around the world can obtain. Such visas can be sponsored by the airlines, licensed travel agents or hotels in the UAE. A tourist visa is to be obtained if you are not eligible for a visa on arrival, or if you are already a resident. The visa permits its holder to stay in the country for 30 days or 90 days, and the multiple entry option is also available. Upon completion, you are allowed two extensions (while inside the country), for 30 days each. Children under 18, accompanying adults, can get a free visit visa from July 15 to September 15 each year. As a tourist, you are not permitted to work, unless you seek and formally obtain employment and convert into a resident status.

3. Residence Visa:
Moving and living in the UAE requires you to obtain a residence visa. For the expats taking up a job in the country, the residence visa is sponsored and the formalities are taken care of by the company (private or public) employing him/her. Usually, the employer submits all the relevant documents and even bears the visa costs on the employee’s behalf. Ideally, expats must have their residency visa with them at the time of entering the country. You may also obtain a resident visa by owning/investing in a business setup, or by acquiring property (worth at least AED 1 million), or by obtaining a student visa (if you are studying in a UAE University) or by being a dependent of one who is already a resident. Each of these come with necessary conditions (and tenure of validity) that must be met for a resident visa to be issued.

The tenure of residency varies on jurisdiction (mainland gets 2-year visas while freezones provide 3-year employment visas) or by category (even owners/investors of mainland businesses get 3-year visas) or by system (the long term resident status is approved if you are a large investor of capital or if you are a superlative achiever in education or science).

Before getting the residency visa, expats need to undergo and pass a medical test. Those who are tested positive for tuberculosis and/or HIV are not granted the residency visa.

Sponsoring Your Spouse/Family
Once you are a resident of UAE, you can sponsor your family members for them to be able to come and stay with you. There are different rules and procedures for sponsoring your spouse, children, step-children, and parents. The most common criterion is your salary bracket. You must be able to meet a minimum salary to be able to sponsor your dependents, or even appoint a housemaid. If you want your entire family to move in, you will need to sponsor each individual. Also, each family member will have to pass the medical test to be eligible for entering the country.

4. Business Visa
Under the new regulations, a business visa may be obtained under the Golden Visa system. Foreigners may get the business visa subject to a series of conditions being met, and also be able to sponsor their dependents.

In order to qualify, anyone with entrepreneurial experience can apply, along with the confirmation that they are willing to relocate and reside in the UAE. They must substantiate this with a business plan that they bring to life in the UAE.

Upon scrutiny by the concerned authorities and successful by a UAE approved incubator, they may get a 6-month visa that allows them time to settle down, explore opportunities and then establish a trade license. Before expiry, this must be converted into a residence permit from any of the other approved methods.

5. Mission Visa
Short-term work options in the UAE are very limited, and only one such option, the mission visa, is provided by the Government. You are permitted to work up to a maximum period of 90 days, with a salary and labor card, and upon expiry, no extension is allowed.

For any of these options mentioned, there are fines for overstaying the expiry date. Get in touch with us to explore the right avenue to enter and reside in the UAE.

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