9 min read

How to Get a UAE Residence Visa in Six Steps

Global mobility


Jemima Owen-Jones

Last Update

July 03, 2024

Table of Contents

1. Check the worker’s eligibility and visa category

2. Prepare the supporting documents

3. Obtain an entry visa

4. Arrange a medical examination

5. Apply for an Emirates ID

6. File for residency

Forget about visa uncertainty with Deel

Key takeaways
  1. If you need to relocate workers to the United Arab Emirates, you must apply for a two-year residence permit.
  2. UAE residence visas require two sets of applications, one for the entry permit and the other for the residency permit.
  3. Due to the challenging nature of the UAE visa application, it’s best to outsource to experienced immigration service providers like Deel.

Relocating foreign talent to the UAE usually involves applying for a standard work visa. As the employer, this task falls on your shoulders.

You can either manage the visa process yourself or outsource to an immigration service provider like Deel. Using a provider is the better option if you lack the in-house expertise to support the application or feel you’d benefit from extra guidance.

If you’re choosing to handle the visa yourself, our guide will walk you through the essential steps involved.

1. Check the worker’s eligibility and visa category

There are two main types of residence visa for employees in the UAE: the standard work visa and the Golden visa.

Most foreign nationals apply for the standard work visa, which lasts two years. Applicants must be between 18 and 60 years old. They also need the relevant academic qualifications: a degree certificate for skilled jobs and a high school diploma or their country’s equivalent for unskilled ones.

As their sponsor, you should have a valid license for your company and proof of a formal job offer.

With a residence permit, expats can then sponsor their family members, namely their spouses and any dependents. However, they’ll need a minimum salary of 4,000 AED ($1080 USD) per month.

Note that companies operating within one of the UAE’s 46 free zones have a visa quota. They can only sponsor a certain number of foreign workers at one time and have to secure approval.

Use Deel HR’s built-in visa eligibility checker to see whether workers are eligible for permits before you draft the contract.


2. Prepare the supporting documents

You will require various paperwork at different stages during the visa application process. Here’s a list of all the documentation you should prepare or request from your worker:

  • A passport with at least six months at the time of submission and two spare pages

  • A colored copy of a passport

  • A digital passport-sized photo on a white background

  • A copy of the work contract

  • Legalized academic certificates

  • A financial guarantor document

UAE Immigration requires you to attest all documentation and translate it into Arabic using a professional service. If your employee is applying from outside the country, you can arrange counter-attestation through the UAE ministry of affairs. You can obtain translations through the worker’s nearest embassy.

Be aware the legalization process can take up to two months. Concerned about delays? Deel can collect all the paperwork from your employee in advance and manage attestation for you to ensure the visa process stays on schedule.

Deel Immigration
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3. Obtain an entry visa

Before your worker can enter the UAE, they may need you to apply for an entry visa on their behalf.

Workers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are exempt as long as they can secure and present a government ID on arrival into the UAE. That means you don’t need to procure an entry visa for citizens from the following countries:

  • Saudi Arabia

  • Bahrain

  • Oman

  • Qatar

  • Kuwait

You can apply for the entry permit via the UAE immigration website portal. There are three main stages to this process:

  1. Registration: Create an account on the website if you haven’t already got one. You can use this to manage all future work visa and residence applications
  2. Application: Upload supporting documents to the system and pay the 1350 AED ($370) visa fees
  3. Collection: Receive the entry permit within 48 hours of making the application

Once they have the entry permit, the worker is now free to move to the UAE

Note that after you’ve made this application, your employee must enter the UAE within 59 days and has six months to apply for the permit.

Streamline the visa application process with Deel’s employer of record (EOR) sponsorship services.

Deel is already a legal entity in the UAE, so we can hire and sponsor workers on behalf of global enterprises. Our team of immigration team has expertise in overcoming all the hurdles of the visa process and meeting the deadlines.

Learn how you could recruit and relocate talent in the UAE with Deel.


4. Arrange a medical examination

Visa applicants need a certificate of good health from a Dubai Health Authority (DHA) accredited hospital for the residence permit application. They have to arrange an appointment at a center to get X-rays and blood tests for communicable diseases. 

You can download the forms and pay the 260 AED ($70) fees on the Emirates Health Service (EHS) website. After the medical check, the hospital will send the results directly to Emirati immigration officials within two days.

5. Apply for an Emirates ID

Before you can file for the residence permit, the worker has to get their Emirati ID card. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICP) is responsible for issuing them. They’ll send you an ID application form within one to three days of your medical appointment. 

Once you’ve applied for an ID, you’re ready to enroll your worker in health insurance. Medical coverage is mandatory in the UAE, and many emirates make it compulsory for employers to add their employees to a company plan. Check the minimum requirements for your company’s location to see whether the benefits you offer are compliant.

Within 15 days of your ID form issuance, your worker can visit one of the ICP’s accredited testing centers for their biometric appointment. If and when they renew, they can use the ICP website portal instead.

The ID application costs 180 AED ($50)  but there’s also the option to pay an extra 150 AED ($40) for urgent services.

Deel’s global mobility team can support employees through their side of the application process. We’ll allow them to upload any required documents and track their progress through our platform.


6. File for residency

Once you’ve taken these steps, you can apply for the residence permit on the UAE government portal. You can upload any supporting documents and pay the filing fees of up to 750 AED ($205).

The immigration office will take up to 48 hours to process your application. If you are approved, the worker should receive their Emirates ID card within two weeks. 

Your worker’s residence status lasts up to two years with the option for renewal. If they have the Golden Visa, it’s up to ten years. Upon renewal, they’ll have to repeat some steps of the visa process, including the medical checks and residency application forms.

Deel’s global mobility team handles all the paperwork for UAE entry visas and work permit applications. We also create and manage accounts on all the Emirate government portals on your behalf. The average processing time is 2-4 months, depending on your worker’s citizenship.

Our experts also tell your worker what documents they need to provide. Deel collects all the required paperwork upfront so there’s no unnecessary back and forth.


Forget about visa uncertainty with Deel

Navigating the visa process is now straightforward with Deel. Our HR, payroll, and immigration can provide essential support for your team as you relocate talent.

With Deel, you can:

  • Check visa eligibility before creating work contracts

  • Have Deel sponsor workers as an EOR

  • Upload, store, and track critical documents

  • Get alerts on possible compliance issues like visa expirations

  • Conduct screening and background checks

  • Organize benefits, including health insurance and retirement funds

  • Run global payroll

Seems like a good fit for your company? Discover more about Deel’s visa and immigration services, or book 30 minutes with our team to answer your questions.

We make mobility and immigration simple, transparent, and fun. We want our clients to be able to outsource the complexity to Deel and let Deel Immigration help them expand globally quickly and compliantly.

Kamylle Mourão,

Senior Manager, Global Mobility, Deel

Disclaimer: Be aware that this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Please always check official websites or seek legal advice before you take action.

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