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UAE and Dubai Visas

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Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE visa requirements, employment entry permits


See the UAE visa table for a list of new (and old) UAE visa types, or the list of possible Dubai visit visas. For visa and immigration questions, try calling the DNRD Amer service tel 800-5111 toll-free in the UAE.

Visa rules and requirements can and do change suddenly, and without warning. The UAE embassy in your country or the relevant authority in the UAE (DNRD in Dubai) is probably the only source of information you can rely on - even government websites can be slow to update. This page was last updated on 09-Aug-2015 but information here may not be complete or accurate. The validity period of the free visit visa on arrival seems to change irregularly - 30 days when new visa rules started 29 July 2008, up to 60 days sometime in August, back to 30 days in January 2009. Add a comment to the Dubai visit visa period topic.

How long a visa is valid for staying in the UAE is usually given in days. Some sources say months instead of days but be careful - 1 month is not the same as 30 days, 6 months is not the same as 180 days. Some visitors have found this out the hard way when leaving the UAE, getting a fine for overstaying by 2 or 3 days. Visit visas and entry permits, if not used to enter the UAE, usually expire 2 months after the date of issue (DNRD website says 2 months but to be safe, allow 60 days).

Nationalities which have difficulties obtaining visas for the UAE

Important notes

  1. This list of countries is not from an official source, don't rely on it, treat it as guesswork on our part and confirm with an official source. This website, Wikipedia, internet forums and blogs, etc, are not official sources.
  2. Restrictions on entry permits might only apply to visit or tourist visas, or only work permits, or for all types of visas.
  3. Visa restrictions might change suddenly and without any prior notification.
  4. Exceptions are possible.

03 January 2011 - Amer mobile visa service in Dubai (Gulf News)

02 January 2011 - new visa fees and requirements for Canadian citizens

Update 28 May 2013 - from 01 June 2013 Canadians can get a free UAE visa on arrival again. Some of the information below is obsolete but left for archive purposes.

20 October 2010 - online mobile visa status check for Dubai

27 April 2010 - Visa rules change for citizens of Kenya

29 July 2008 - New visa rules start

29 July 2008 - New visa rules apply from 07:30 this morning (as opposed to 01 August 2008 as previously stated). Conflicting reports in the press, based on conflicting statements from various officials, has left everyone confused. If you're from one of the 33 free-visa-on-arrival countries, you'll probably have an easier time of it. Bring money for visa fees, patience, and politeness, and assume visa rules will be implemented randomly depending on the mood of the official you're dealing with at the entry point or visa office. Some of the more common visa questions follow (there are no definitive answers yet, just guesses, since even the authorities keep saying different things):

Visa delivery service to airport - 17 June 2008

Visit visas and entry permits obtained by sponsors for visitors to the UAE normally need to be delivered to the airport at least three hours before the visitor arrives (except for the ones who get a visa on arrival). Look for a DNATA or DNRD visa delivery counter at Dubai International Airport (in or near the arrivals area). From 01 July 2008, instead of delivering the visa yourself, you can pay an extra Dh40 (or Dh 60 if urgent) and have it delivered for you, according to Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director General of DNRD, as reported in several UAE newspapers. Saves you the trouble of an extra trip through the airport traffic jam and carpark nuisance. The service will also be available at Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali when it opens.

09 June 2008 - New visa rules from 01 August 2008

New UAE visa rules were announced. A brief summary follows. The major changes appear to be that Visit Visas cannot be renewed, they will cost 500 dhs or 1000 dhs, expats can no longer sponsor friends on visit visas, and all visitors will need to show evidence of medical insurance. Nationalities of countries that at present can receive a free visit visa on arrival will continue to be able to do that according to reports on 09 June 2008. Conflicting information seen in some reports of the new visa rules. See the UAE visa table for a list of visa types summarised.

Dubai visit visa information page updated.

Visit Visa for 30 days

To obtain a UAE visit visa you'll need evidence of medical insurance, and a 1000 dhs deposit (some nationalities may be exempt). Cost of visit visa will be 500 dhs in any emirate. Visit visa validity will be 30 days and cannot be renewed. UAE non-Emirati residents will no longer be able to sponsor friends, only spouse or first-degree relatives, although there was a report in Xpress 25 September 2008 that a DNRD official said residents on salaries greater than 10,000 dhs/month could sponsor friends for a visit visa.

GCC residents might be able to obtain a visit visa for 100 dhs, with 500 dhs fee for one renewal. GCC nationals might be able to bring visitors with them under the same conditions, except renewal fee is only 200 dhs.

Visit Visa for 60 days - free for some nationalities

The new visa rules in June 2008 continued the free UAE visas on arrival for some nationalities but length of stay was randomly 30 days or 60 days until January 2009 when the period was set to 30 days, even if the stamp said 60 days.

Visit Visa for 90 days

Same conditions as 30 day visa but cost is 1000 dhs.

Other visit visas (all need 1000 dhs deposit)

Tourist Visa

Valid for 30 days, costs 100 dhs + 10 dhs delivery fee, can only be obtained by hotels or tour operators. A deposit of 1000 dhs is needed. Can be renewed once.

Multi entry visa valid 180 days (or 6 months)

Other types of visas

Mission Visa - 90 to 180 days

Amer Service Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department

Medical exemption for expiration of residency visa

Procedure for applying for a visa in Dubai

DNRD main office location in Dubai and opening times

Bribes and visas in Dubai and the UAE

Work Permits for Dubai

A work permit is not the same as a residency visa. The residency visa allows you to live in Dubai and the UAE for a period of time (usually 3 years). To work in Dubai, you also need to apply for a work permit or labor card. Usually the company you work for will arrange both work permits and residency visas for you and your family, and will explain to you what documents you need. If you're setting up your own business, you'll have to arrange the applications yourself. If you're in Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, or one of the other Free Zones, then you should be able to get everything arranged easily and quickly.

Some companies are efficient at arranging work permits and residency visas, others are more tardy and can take months or longer. It can also depend on the relationship the company has with the respective government departments.

Employment Visa - 30 days

An employment visa is issued to visitors who have arranged employment before coming to Dubai. It allows you to enter the country once and is valid for 30 days, during which time your company should complete processing of your work permit and residency visa. If you are from a country which can obtain a visit visa on arrival in Dubai, your company may ask you to enter this way instead but note that a visit visa does not allow you to work - the company should still obtain an employment visa or have your work permit ready.

Working on a Visit Visa or without a Work Permit

It is quite common for people to work in Dubai on a visit visa - and sometimes for many months, especially if a company wants to avoid the hassle and cost of processing a visa while a worker is on probation. The authorities occasionally crack down on this and deport people working without visas (with a visit to the police departure lounge on the way).

Another trap some people fall into is to state a profession on the visa different to what they really do. Small discrepancies are unlikely to be a problem eg Teacher vs Lecturer but claiming to be a Businessman is usually a red flag if you dress like a laborer and don't have any business cards with you, as some have found out - the consequence can be deportation and blacklisting.

In September 2007 it was reported that the Ministry of Labour was drawing up new rules that would mean those people found working on a visit visa would get a life ban for the UAE, and their employer would get a 50,000 dh fine.

Residency Visas - 3 years (or 1 year)

See Dubai residency visa information. Note that you cannot open a bank account, register a car, get a telephone connected, and so on until you have a residency visa or permit.

Usually residents will be sponsored by their employer (or an employed member of their family). The sponsor will normally make the visa arrangements and explain to you what documents you need. For those employed from overseas, the employer is responsible for all costs associated with obtaining your work permit (or labour card) and residency visa.

Visit visas and visitor entry permits for the UAE

Visit Visas UAE

Update after new visa rules from 29 July 2008: 30 day visa is AED 500 (one renewal possible), 90 day visit visa is AED 1000. Conflicting information seen for visa runs (visa renewals by exiting and re-entering the UAE on the same day). It appears that the free visit visa on arrival nationalities can still do visa runs as before, but other nationalities must leave the country for at least a month.

Business Visas for Dubai and the UAE (to be updated)

Investor Visa
Multiple Entry Visa - 6 months

Cancelling visas and work permits

UAE visa information sources

Most of these sources would be a primary reference for many visitors and expats, but are not always up-to-date. It's a rare thing if they all consistently provide the same information about visas. Even phoning the Ministry of Labour and/or the DNRD or other UAE NRD can result in inconsistent information. Any other source usually bases their information on one of these.

Online visa applications UAE

There are several websites that appear to have an online facility available for obtaining a UAE entry permit (tourist visa or visit visa). Before handing over money, try to confirm with an official UAE organisation such as the UAE Immigration Ministry if such sources are legitimate. It is possible websites are trying to scam people with these procedures. Remember that normally anyone arranging a visa prior to travelling to the UAE needs to have a sponsor in the UAE - a friend, relative, airline, travel agent, hotel, or company based in the UAE (we'd suggest dealing directly with one of those options, or contact a UAE Embassy, or talk to the airline you are travelling with). Some websites are (these are not necessarily recommended sites, just listed here with whatever we know about them):

Last update Sunday 09-Aug-2015
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