The United Arab Emirates has become a renowned hub for employers and workers, thanks to its more straightforward visa requirements than neighbouring Middle Eastern nations. This unique advantage positions the country as an ideal choice for businesses looking to expand globally and individuals seeking brighter future prospects. While the employment visa UAE is the key to unlocking these opportunities, it’s important to note that there are some specific rules and guidelines that must be adhered to.
Article Summary: You have come to the right place if you are looking for a UAE employment visa process step-by-step guide. Whether it’s the visa application process, fees, sick leave policies, or information about visa cancellation, we have got you covered with all the essential information.
What is Employment Visa in UAE? Individuals and companies wishing to establish themselves in the UAE must possess a valid work permit or employment visa UAE to conduct their operations within the country legally. The duration of stay and work permissions can vary depending on the type of employment visa, ranging from two years to even more. This essential document grants the privilege of living and working in the UAE, ensuring compliance with the nation’s legal requirements.
Employment Visa Types in UAE
Before setting foot in the UAE to work, people from other countries need to get a UAE work visa. Foreigners have three different options to pick from.
Standard work visa
For foreigners, employers can opt for a standard work visa in the UAE, typically valid for around two years. It allows them to work in:
the private sector
the government sector, or a free zone
Further details are given below.
The Green visa in UAE is open to freelancers, self-employed individuals, and skilled employees.
Valid for five years
No sponsor or employer required
Can be renewed on the same terms mentioned below
Here’s what each of them needs to do:
1. Freelancers and Self-employed Individuals:
If you are a freelancer or self-employed and want a Green visa, you must provide:
– Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation permit for freelancing and self-employment in the country
– Proof of education that may include an attested bachelor’s degree or a specialized diploma.
– Evidence of earning annually from your self-employment for at least AED 360,000 for the past two years, or you can show that you have enough money to support yourself in the UAE.
2. Skilled Employees:
Skilled employees must:
– Hold a valid employment contract.
– Have a monthly salary of no less than AED 15,000.
– Be classified at the first, second, or third occupational level, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
– Possess at least a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification.
The ‘Golden Visa’ in the UAE is like a special ticket that lets foreign talents stay, work, or study in the country for a long time. It comes with some amazing perks including:
Long-term for up to 10 years with renewable options
No sponsor required
No need to maintain a six-month residence within the UAE to maintain the visa status
Permit to sponsor as many domestic helpers as you like
If the main holder of the Golden visa in the UAE passes away, their family members can continue to stay in the country until their permit expires
Who is Eligible:
Investors with at least a deposit of AED two million
Real estate investors with one or more properties having value more than AED two million
Entrepreneurs with the project value more than 500,000 AED stated by auditor
Specialised talents including inventors, doctors, scientists, athletes, executives, doctoral degree holders, science and engineering specialists.
UAE Employment Visa Basics
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older and eager to work in the UAE can apply for a UAE employment visa.
Employment in the Private Sector
Getting a job in the private sector follows a clear path. First, you get a formal job offer. After that, you sign an employment contract. Then, you get a work permit and a work visa. The company can only alter the terms once signed if both parties agree.
Employment in Government Sector
People who work in the public sector have rules to follow. These rules come from the Federal Decree-Law No. 11 of 2008, with some changes made over time. In the public sector, you can have different types of contracts: full-time, part-time, temporary, or special contracts.
UAE Employment Visa Rules
You can enjoy the benefits of working and living in UAE only when the following rules are followed:
You need to be at least 18 years old.
The company should not have any violations or issues.
The company that wants to hire you must have a valid license.
The job you will be doing should match the company’s profile.
What is the eligibility to apply for UAE Work Visa?
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) sets the working standards in UAE. Anyone 18 years old and under the below-mentioned category is eligible to apply for a UAE employment visa.
Based on the academic classification, expatriates are divided into three categories:
Category 1: Bachelor’s degree holders.
Category 2: Post-secondary diploma holders.
Category 3: High school diploma holders.
Requirements to Obtain UAE Work Visa
To obtain a work visa in UAE, you may need the following documents:
A valid passport and photocopy: A passport that has an expiry for at least six months after you plan to enter the country.
Passport photos: The standard measurement is 43 mm by 55 mm. But, in certain instances, you might also come across requirements for a 2-inch by 2-inch picture, which is approximately 50 mm by 50 mm.
Emirates ID Card: The Emirates ID card is a special identity card provided by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Ports Security (ICP). It’s not just any card – it’s a must-have by law for everyone living in the UAE, whether you’re a UAE citizen or a resident. You must apply for it and ensure you always have it with you to stay in line with the rules.
You can apply for the new Emirates ID card online on the ICP website or at an approved typing center. You might have to go to one of ICP’s service centers to give your biometric details. It means you can only apply for it once you reach the country if you are a foreigner.
Entry permit from the Ministry of Labor: The employer contacts the Ministry of Labour (MOL) for approval to get the entry permit and sends over a work contract. The future worker has to sign the contract first before submission.
Now, the Ministry has to approve the work permit. After that, they hand out an employment entry visa. With both of these in hand, the worker has two months to come to the UAE.
Medical Screening Result: You must not have any contagious diseases like HIV and TB. Also, there are some specific jobs where workers must test negative for syphilis and Hepatitis B. If your results are negative, you are good to go.
Copy of a company card from the employer: It will have the company’s details; only your employer can provide it to you.
Copy of the company’s commercial license: Only your employer can give it to you.
Application Process for the Employment Visa in UAE
Here is the step by step for the application process that you must follow to get an employment visa in UAE.
1. Apply for entry visa quota approval
Initiate getting your Entry Visa by applying at the Ministry of Labour (MOL), and the employer has to do this work. If your visa is for one of those special free zones, the approval must come before you set foot in the UAE.
Free zone companies have to follow a rule that states they can only hire one foreign worker for every 12.5 square meters of office space they have. Plus, if a company has over 100 employees, there are certain jobs where they can only hire a limited number of foreign workers.
Usually, this process takes about three working days to get the approval.
2. Submit a signed employment contract
The employer sends over a job offer contract for the employee to sign and send back. This contract needs to be in three languages: English, Arabic, and the employee’s native language if it’s different. This is to make sure everyone understands the job and what’s expected.
This contract shows that the employee is coming for a real job, and the Ministry of Labour (MOL) will take a look at it.
This step usually takes two working days if everything is done online.
3. Submit a Work Visa Application and Apply for an Entry Visa
Before you get your Entry Visa, you have to make sure your work permit application is approved. To do that, the Ministry of Labour checks a couple of things. They want to see if any unemployed UAE citizens could do the job you are getting, and they also check if the company hiring you is a registered UAE business. If everything appears fine, you should get the approval.
4. Receive an Employment Entry Visa
Once you get the work permit, the Ministry gives you an Employment Entry Visa (sometimes called a pink visa). This special visa lets you legally come into the UAE. It has a two-month validity from the day it is issued, and during that time, you can stay in the UAE for 30 days. You can even extend it twice if needed while they sort out your official work permit. You can receive it within three working days.
5. Obtain a Work Visa and Residence Visa in the UAE
To start the process and get your work permit, there are two ways to enter the country. If your Entry Visa was ready before you arrived, you can pick it up at the airport when you land. But if you were already in the UAE on a different kind of visa, you will need to apply for a ‘change of status’ visa after they issue the Entry Visa. Alternatively, you can leave the UAE and then come back with an Entry Visa.
Once in the country, you have 60 days to finish all the paperwork and get your work permit and residence visa.
6. Apply for an Emirates ID
The process is already mentioned above. You need your original passport and employment entry permit to get an Emirates ID.
7. Get a Medical Checkup
You will be tested according to your job requirements, but mainly for contagious diseases, including HIV and TB.
8. Submit a Labor Contract
As part of the work permit application, you must provide a signed labor contract. There’s a specific timeline for this contract now: you have to send it to the Ministry of Labour (MOL) within 14 days after you get your medical results. You can do this by uploading the contract on the MQL Website.
9. Get Health Insurance
Having health insurance is necessary in the UAE. Employers need to make sure their foreign workers have it. If the company doesn’t provide it, employees need to get it themselves. Without a valid insurance card, you can’t get your work permit or renew it.
10. Receive a Work/ Residence Visa and Begin Payroll
When every step runs smoothly, you can begin living and working in UAE with a residence visa. You must have it to own a car, open a bank account, etc.
11. Application Fees and Type of Permit
Type of Permit
eChannel Services Fees
Work in government sector
100 AED for each year
Work in the private sector or free zone
100 AED for each year
Investor or partner resident
100 AED for each year
These fees are updated on September 20th, 2023
12. Visa Stamping
Formerly, the last step in the visa application process is getting your UAE residence visa officially stamped or placed as a sticker in your passport. To do this, you would need to submit your passport to the immigration office responsible for this.
However, nowadays, when renewing or obtaining UAE residence visas, there’s no more need for the old stamping process. Instead, your UAE visa will be linked directly to your Emirates ID, eliminating the need for a visa sticker in your passport that used to show your residency details.
Cancellation of Employment Visa in UAE
Cancellation Fees and Permit Types
Type of Permit
Electronic Service Fees
Cancel Entry Permit
Cancel Residency Permit
Cancel Exit Permit
These fees are updated on September 20th, 2023.
Visa cancellation procedure
How does the employer cancel the visa?
Only the person or company who sponsored your visa can cancel your visa officially.
If a company wants to cancel an employee’s work visa, they first need to apply for visa cancellation at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. They also need to file an application to cancel labour contract and labour card of the employee. The employee’s signature is obligatory on the application. After that, the company needs to apply to ICP for visa cancellation. The company also needs to cancel the employee’s work permit.
The company also has to ensure the employee gets all their wages and benefits, and the employee must confirm this in writing to the government.
How do employees cancel their visas?
You have two options for canceling your visa if you have no sponsor.
Using Registered Typing Centers:
If you choose to go to a typing center registered by ICP near you, they will fill out the cancellation form for you and send it online.
Doing It Online:
Alternatively, you can initiate the cancellation online by visiting the ICP website or using the ICP app from Google Play or the App Store.
What is the grace period to stay in UAE after cancellation?
In the UAE, residents are given an extended and flexible grace period that can last up to six months after their residence permit has been canceled or has expired. It mainly depends on the visa type.
The ICP in the UAE has simplified the fines for overstaying. Under the updated regulations, the fines for overstaying on visit, tourist, and residence visas have been set at a fixed rate of AED 50 per day. This means that regardless of your visa type, you will incur the same daily fee for overstaying.
What happens after the cancellation of the UAE employment visa?
Following the cancellation of your visa, there is a 28-day grace period during which you can either change your status by obtaining another residence visa or choose to depart from the country. Notably, during this grace period, you will not be subject to any fines or penalties after a visa cancellation.
How do you get a new visa if the previous one is canceled?
When your previous visa is canceled, you can apply for the new visa. The process is same as before but you need to keep your grace period in mind. There are two ways to do it: you can either exit the country or stay within the country to apply for the renewal.
Checking Visa Status and Validity
How to check visa status?
UAE makes it pretty easy to check your visa status. You can track your application online.
For Dubai visa, you can visit here.
For visa to other UAE states, you can visit here.
How to check visa validity?
If you want to check the validity of the residence visa or work permit, including the issuance and expiry date, you can easily do by calling the toll free number 600522222.
You can also visit the following links:
For Dubai, check validity here.
For other UAE states, check validity here.
How long does it take to update the status?
The processing time to update your status typically ranges from 2 to 5 working days, depending on the specific circumstances of your application.
How to transfer from a visit visa to an employment visa in UAE?
It is important for individuals considering working in the UAE to understand that working on visit or tourist visas is not permitted. They must obtain a valid work or residency visa/permit to live and work legally in the UAE. It’s the responsibility of the employer to secure these permits. Engaging in work without the appropriate visa status is considered illegal and can result in penalties and legal consequences.
With a proper job in your hand, you must go for a medical screening and security check along with the procedure mentioned above to get an employment visa.
With all the completed documents, it takes around five working days to transform from a tourist to a resident in the UAE.
Frauds in Employment Visa of UAE
Individuals intending to travel to the UAE for various reasons, such as work, tourism, investment, residency, or any other lawful purpose, should be aware of the potential risks of falling victim to visa fraud. It’s essential to exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of any visa or immigration services to ensure a safe and lawful entry into the UAE.
What are the major visa frauds in UAE?
The major visa fraud in UAE includes:
Providing tourist visas for working – it is prohibited to work on a visit visa
Asking for money other than the government and service fees
Stealing personal information
Processing residence visas outside UAE before entry permit
How to avoid visa frauds?
To avoid visa fraud, you must do the following:
When you are offered a job, you need to make sure you have an official job offer letter from the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE)
Once you have put your signature on the offer letter, your employer will send you an employment visa for your entry into the UAE.
It’s important to be aware that, in line with the UAE’s Labor Law, the employer is the one responsible for covering the costs related to the recruitment process.
Before you proceed, double-check that the company is a legitimate entity. You can do this by searching for the company’s name in both English and Arabic in the National Economic Register to access its official details and ensure its authenticity.
If you suspect fraud, you can contact MoHRE at telephone number 0097168027666 or email email@example.com.
Ministry of Labor Documentation
What are the working hours in UAE?
According to UAE government, in the private sector, employees typically put in 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. However, when the sacred month of Ramadan graces the calendar, the working hours shrink by 2 hour.
Your employer might request you to work extra hours beyond your regular schedule, but they can’t ask you to work more than two extra hours in a single day as overtime.
In the public sector, employees follow an eight-hour workday, starting at 7:30 am and ending at 3:30 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, the workday wraps up at 12:00 pm after starting at the same 7:30 am time. Saturdays and Sundays are the designated weekends.
Government Health Cards
Emirates Health Service allows patients to apply for a health card, a pass that grants its holder access to a range of health and treatment services exclusively provided at EHS health facilities. It is not free of cost, and a service fee of 20 to 50 AED is charged.
You may need health insurance as a foreigner residing in UAE. How much health coverage you and your family get depends on your job and salary. The more coverage you have and the specific insurance plan or scheme you choose, the more it may cost for your medical services.
In Abu Dhabi, employers and sponsors take care of health insurance for employees and their families, including one spouse and up to three children under 18 years old.
In Dubai, employers handle their employees’ health insurance, while sponsors ensure their resident dependents also have insurance coverage.
Work Contracts in UAE
The labor law recognizes various work arrangements. Your work contracts may depend on the following work arrangements.
1. Full-time: In this setup, an employee commits to working for one employer on a full-time basis.
2. Part-time: An employee can work for one or more employers but for a special number of hours or days.
3. Temporary work: This arrangement involves working on a particular assignment, with the contract concluding upon completing the task.
4. Flexible working: Under this system, working hours or days may change based on the employer’s business needs.
5. Remote work: In this kind of work, all or part of the work is done outside the traditional workplace.
6. Job sharing: The workload is divided among workers, as mutually agreed upon in advance.
Employers have a legal duty to provide compensation for employees in case they get sick or have accidents related to their work. The amount of compensation must be at least AED 18,000 but cannot exceed AED 35,000.
Annual Leave Entitlements
According to UAE Labor Law, you get your entire monthly salary when you take a 30-day annual leave after being employed for 12 months. This includes your basic salary and any allowances you receive.
For part-time workers, the amount of annual leave they get is based on the hours they actually work, as stated in their employment agreement.
Employees can take sick leave for up to 90 days each year, but only after they complete their probationary period as per UAE Labor Law. During this:
– For the first 15 days, they get their full salary.
– For the next 30 days, they receive half of their salary.
– However, for the remaining 45 days, they won’t receive any salary.
End of Service Benefits
According to Article 51 of the UAE Labor Law, foreign workers in the private sector receive end-of-service benefits as follows:
If they have completed one year of continuous service, they are entitled to a gratuity for the part of the year they’ve worked.
The gratuity is calculated based on their last entitled wage, which typically includes the basic salary. Allowances like housing, utilities, conveyance, and furniture are not included in this calculation.
In case the worker has any outstanding debts to the employer, the employer has the authority to subtract that amount from the worker’s gratuity.
All end-of-service benefits must be disbursed within a strict timeframe of 14 days starting from the conclusion of the employment contract.
Can I sponsor my family on my UAE employment visa?
Yes, if you meet certain salary and accommodation requirements, you can sponsor your spouse, children, and sometimes other family members. The minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation is the basic requirement.
What happens if I lose my job while on a UAE employment visa?
If you lose your job, your employer must cancel your visa within a specific period. You may have a grace period to find a new job or leave the country.
Is changing employers while on a UAE employment visa possible?
Yes, you can change employers in the UAE, but this requires canceling your current visa and issuing a new one by the new employer. You may need to exit the country once to obtain a new entry permit.
What is the duration of a UAE employment visa?
Typically, UAE employment visas are issued for two years. They can be renewed, but the renewal process must be initiated before the current visa expires.
Can I work for multiple employers with one UAE employment visa?
Yes, you can work for more than one employer, but you may need a permit from the MoHRE which is valid for one year